Minor League Team Sues Yankees After Its Affiliation Was Pulled

This March 26, 2020 file photo shows an empty Yankee Stadium on opening day due to COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions in the Bronx borough of New York. (John Woike/Samara Media via AP)

(CN) — A minor league baseball team is suing the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball after being stripped of its affiliation with the major league ballclub.

In a lawsuit filed on Thursday, the Staten Island Yankees allege the Yankees have violated their contractual obligations and announced they were ceasing operations.

“By unilaterally ending any affiliation with the SI Yankees, Defendants have

breached their contractual obligations to the SI Yankees, violated numerous promises made to the SI Yankees, tortiously interfered with the SI Yankees’ contracts and caused the loss of the SI Yankees’ entire business and enterprise value,” the complaint states. “Defendants’ conduct has also dealt a serious blow to the Staten Island economy.”

The Staten Island Yankees are one of 40 minor league clubs that were casualties in Major League Baseball’s yet-to-be finalized realignment plan.

“MLB has unilaterally ended its joint venture with MiLB,” the lawsuit says. “In doing so, MLB openly conceded that it wanted to impose ‘crippling economics’ on the 160 MiLB teams by employing a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, ending MLB’s affiliation with 40 teams (which will put most into insolvency), and putting the other 120 teams under its direct control. 

“MLB has explicitly threatened that if MiLB does not comply with its demand, it intends to impose ‘crippling economics’ on MiLB teams that would force most of those teams out of business.”

According to the complaint, the Yankees made several false promises to the Staten Island club before taking “unilateral and unauthorized actions to effectively dissolve the NY-Penn League, end their affiliation with the SI Yankees, kick the SI Yankees out of the SI Stadium, deny the SI Yankees any future players or coaches, and put the SI Yankees out of business.”

“Defendants’ current efforts to take over MiLB, and enrich themselves in the process, are in direct violation of numerous promises that they made to the SI Yankees in the past,” the lawsuit alleges.

The Yankees promised Nostalgic, which has owned the Staten Island club since 2011, that “the NY Yankees would remain affiliated with the SI Yankees and would provide the SI Yankees with players and coaches.”

Minor League teams have paid Major League Baseball 8% of their ticket sales as part of their long standing Professional Baseball Agreement.

“Unsatisfied with its billions in revenues, MLB is now trying to destroy the independence of MiLB and, in doing so, put 40 MiLB teams into insolvency,” the complaint says. “And MLB, in a move to further enrich itself, now wants to control, and not just partner with, MiLB.”

In a statement released Nov. 7, the Yankees announced they were downsizing their minor league affiliates from 10 teams to six and they planned to field a different team in Staten Island.

In a statement released Thursday, the Staten Island Yankees said they would be forced to “field a subpar team with players that have no connection to the Yankees farm system.”

The Staten Island club says in the lawsuit that they learned of their fate in the news, not directly from the New York Yankees. After the Staten Island club contacted the Yankees to express its dismay, the Yankees doubled down on their assertion that they were “within their contractual rights” to “abandon the SI Yankees and destroy their business.”

In addition to breaching their contract, the Staten Island club contends that the Yankees have violated the New York Franchise Sales Act by failing to file an offering prospectus.

Nostalgia is represented by attorney James Quinn of the New York-based law firm Berg & Androphy.

Representatives for Nostalgia, the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

%d bloggers like this: