Tester to Major League Baseball: ‘now is not the time for MLB to reduce its role in baseball in rural America’

Reported Major League Baseball plan would sever ties with Minor League teams, including in Billings, Great Falls, and Missoula

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today sent a letter to Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Robert Manfred opposing the League’s proposed plan to sever ties with dozens of Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams, including Pioneer League baseball clubs in Billings, Great Falls, and Missoula.

“Our communities are deeply invested in our minor league teams,” wrote Tester. “These teams keep Montanans connected to [Major League Baseball], provide affordable family entertainment, and spur economic development and job growth across many business sectors. I urge you to reverse course on this proposal.”

Montana is one of only two states that does not have a single major league professional sports team or border a state that has a major league professional sports team. Montana’s Pioneer League ball clubs build connections between Treasure State communities and baseball, and dozens of small businesses invest in marketing with Montana’s teams to support the franchises and grow their customer bases.

Tester added: “As MLB examines ways to grow the sport and deal with the decline in younger viewers, I believe it is vital for MLB to invest in rural communities by maintaining MiLB affiliates… I strongly believe that now is not the time for MLB to reduce its role in baseball in rural America.”

Senator Tester met with Deputy MLB Commissioner of Baseball Administration Dan Halem this week to discuss the League’s proposal. Tester, a Montreal Expos—and later, Washington Nationals—fan since the 1980s, would watch games broadcast from Canada after long days working on his farm in Big Sandy.

Read the full letter HERE.