The Staten Island Yankees dropped a bombshell on Thursday afternoon, announcing that the team is ceasing operations effective immediately – and suing both the Yankees and MLB for legal remedy due to what they feel is “false promises” of continued affiliation.
Staten Island revealed the news in the following Tweet/release:
There had been rumors and reports that various factors led to the Yankees’ decision, including field issues at Richmond County Ballpark and the “Pizza Rats” rebrand among others – but those reports were debunked by Staten Island team president Will Smith (formerly the GM of another now ex-Yankees affiliate in Trenton), who also said repeatedly the team was “surprised” and “blindsided” by the Yankees’ decision to axe SI as an affiliate.
Late in November, New York City pledged $5.1 million to upgrade the ballpark, including a switchover to artificial grass, and borough President James Oddo has publicly said he hoped to keep baseball on Staten Island, while also using the upgrades to help Richmond County Ballpark become an optimal venue for other sports or events.
“The notion of a stadium alive and active nearly 12 months out of the year, and almost daily during good weather months is predicated on installing synthetic turf. To that extent, a capital investment by the city in a facility of this nature is a worthwhile investment,” Oddo had said about the allocation.
Trenton, formerly the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate before that was switched to Somerset, recently announced they will be part of the new MLB Draft League for prospects; Staten Island could have been an option there, or for the Atlantic League – which is looking to replace both Somerset and Sugar Land, who left to become the Astros’ AAA team – but instead chose to cease operations rather than field what they termed in the release “a subpar team” that requires “additional expenses.”
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