Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Olympia will never have a minor league baseball team as you know it (unpacking Olympia Brewery Visioning, Part 1)

Tonight was pretty fun on twitter, with the Olympia Brewery visioning event going on. The folks from Einmaleins.tv attended and got us all going on the #olympiabrewery hashtag.

The first take away for the night for me was running down the rule I knew existed (but didn't have bookmarked) between major and minor league baseball on how teams on the various levels are located. This is the rule that I repeat to folks like Rob Richards when they go on about building a waterfront minor league baseball stadium.

Short of it is, as long as Tacoma has a minor league baseball team, we won't.

Please consult your most recent version of the Professional Baseball Agreement. While this document is also the heart of darkness that is Organized Baseball and the great horrible monopoly that it is, it also includes Rule 52 "Major and Minor League Territorial Rights."

Please flip to page 151 of the pdf file (or page 130 of the paginated document). Rule 52 states that every club is given a territory of their own, in which certain rules apply to teams that want to operate inside those territories.

Basically, the rules are:
  • A major league team can enter a minor league's team territory for a price. 
  • A minor league team can be inside a major league team's territory with consent or by being grandfathered in (and paid off, see Rule #1). 
  • But, a minor league team holds a veto for any other minor league franchise wanting to locate inside their territory.
And the Rule 52 Attachment lists Tacoma's home territory as Pierce County. And, when you add on the Rule 52 15 mile buffer, you cannot locate an affiliated minor league franchise within Lacey, Olympia or Tumwater. You could get a team along I-5 just south of 93rd, but that would be way out of town. You certainly aren't building a minor league baseball stadium anywhere on the old brewery property and expecting an affiliated minor league team to play there.

That said, there is an exception to this rule. Just ignore the rule. There are many independent leagues that play professionally. Sadly, none of these operate in the Pacific Northwest.

Then again, we do have a league of our own in town. They play semi-pro collegiate ball, but they do play with wood bats. And, they're the best you're going to get for awhile if you want to watch baseball down here inside Tacoma's home territory.

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