KODAK, Tenn. (WVLT) -- There's been a growing rift between Major League Baseball and the minors for some time, but it could all boil over during the fall of 2020 as the contract between the two organizations expires.
East Tennessee has its own minor league team, the Tennessee Smokies, and while they won't be closing their doors anytime soon, the issues between the MLB and minors could impact minor league teams across the country.
Smokies president and COO Chris Allen has been with the team for nearly as long as they've been in Sevier County, 20 years.
Allen spoke passionately about the importance of minor league baseball in the Sevier County community. "Small-town baseball is everything to these communities, and it improves the quality of life in these communities."
Though that importance is reflected in many US cities, some have had minor league teams for more than 100 years, it's set to end for them at the end of this season.
The contract between MLB and minor leagues is set to expire this year and will leave nearly 50 cities and towns without a minor league team.
Allen said the best thing those in the business can do is support the organization in any way they can. "The best thing we can do as minor league executives is to support the minor league office and give them what they need and help out any way we can, but also trust the process."
While the situation is precarious, Allen said he believes "cooler heads will prevail."
"It would be a terrible loss to see these teams leave these communities. You look at 42 teams--that's 42 communities across the country. I just can't imagine that happening and how that would be a positive for Major League Baseball," Allen said.
If cooler heads don't prevail, legislation might. Several senators introduced a resolution urging MLB not to eliminate any minor league teams.
CBS News reported that the resolution says that the House, "supports the preservation of minor league baseball in 160 American communities" and it "recognizes the unique social, economic, and historic contributions that minor league baseball has made to American life and culture."
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