Now that the MLB Lockout is over we can all begin to get ready to enjoy another 2022 baseball season. For many of the historians among us we would like to share this piece written by our friend and collaborator, Dr. Cary Goodman
The Campaign to End the Lockout
In twelve days, The Campaign to End the Lockout succeeded.
Major League Baseball owners agreed to begin Spring training and reschedule the 162-game season. The 161st Street BID developed and executed the effort to bring back baseball, according to the chronology below:
The Campaign to End the Lockout began with an Open Letter to Yankee owner, Hal Steinbrenner.
The letter, posted and published in The Bronx Times, called on the owners to, “End the Lockout and begin Spring Training.” It warned that any delay would, “erode a feeling of good will between players and owners, between fans and teams.”
A copy of the letter was sent to the Yankees with an appeal for the team to consider the neighborhood’s “small business community, which was still reeling from the pandemic.” No one responded.
A copy of the Open Letter was sent to local elected officials and staff. No one responded.
A copy of the Open Letter was posted on Yankee fan Facebook pages. A few people affirmed our goal and dozens shared it in their social media.
A copy of the Open Letter was sent to the press. NY1, News12, The City and NY1 responded.
March 1 & 2
NEWS12 ran a story which by Julio Avela, Jr called on the Mayor to get involved in helping to end the lockout.
Claudia Irizarry wrote a comprehensive article in The City, challenging the owners and highlighting the uncertainties for small businesses this season caused by the lockout.
Steve Serby of the Post reached out for context and contacts for his story focusing on the district’s, world-famous sports bars and souvenir shops. Interviews were conducted with Yankee Tavern, Stan’s, Yankee Twins and Court Deli.
After sharing our concerns about the impact of the lockout on this iconic neighborhood, we asked City Hall if the Mayor would tour the district and meet with small business owners worried about surviving a lockout.
The New York Post published Serby’s two-page piece about the impact of the lockout on, “The little guy.”.
A request was made to the Independent Budget Office to calculate how much tax revenue the city will lose for every canceled baseball game
City Hall said the Mayor isn’t interested in a tour of the district or meeting the store owners.
The Daily News publishes an Op-Ed on How the Mayor Can End the Lockout. The article identifies five ways for the Mayor to intervene:
- Lobby other Mayors to put pressure on team owners in their cities
- Rally Congressional leaders to hold a hearing on baseball’s anti-trust exemption which enshrines the owners’ monopoly
- Hold fan rallies @ Citi Field and Yankee Stadium
- Convene a summit meeting of the owners, players and broadcasters, who underwrite the season with billions of dollars in commercials and fees.
- Rework the Yankees and Mets sweetheart leases and clawback the billions of dollars in subsidies and tax exemptions that the teams enjoy.
Outreach to MLBPA concerning the “Plague of Greed” crushing The South Bronx and epitomized by the lockout.
Outreach to Congresswoman Ocasio Cortez who represents both baseball boroughs: Queens and The Bronx.
Can she help convene hearings in New York City to reconsider Major League Baseball’s anti-trust exemption?
Outreach to Rep. Connolly and Rep. Raskin. members of the House Oversight Committee, charged with reviewing anti-trust matters.
Communication with Oversight Committee Chair, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s office about holding a Congressional hearing in The Bronx.
A call was placed to the WFAN, flagship station of The Yankees, “Unless the owners End the Lockout, Congress should End their Monopoly. Everyone is looking forward to baseball, to Spring, to an end of the COVID Plague. Hopefully, the owners will end the lockout.”
Requests for a hearing on the anti-trust exemption are sent to House Oversight Chairwoman Maloney and Senate Budget Committee Chairman, Bernie Sanders.
March 10 – End of the Lockout.7
Senator Dick Durbin tweeted,
“Enough. After almost 100 days of the MLB lockout, it’s time to reconsider MLB’s special antitrust exemption, which allows them to act as a lawful monopoly. Fans across America deserve better. Message to the owners: unlock the lockout and play ball.”
NBC/Univision requests an interview to discuss the End the Lockout campaign. As it is about to air, the assignment desk defers to late-breaking news:
MLB and the MLBPA announced an agreement.
Senator Sanders tweeted,
“I’m delighted to see an agreement reached so that the MLB season can start. But we must prevent the greed of baseball’s oligarchs from destroying the game. The best way to do that is to end MLB’s antitrust exemption and I will be introducing legislation to do just that.”
Goodman, the Founding Executive Director of the 161st Street Business Improvement District @ Yankee Stadium, was the campaign’s organizer.
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