WICHITA, Kan. (KSNT) – 2020 threw a curveball no Minor League Baseball team could have prepared for.
“They went without income for 12 to 18 months depending on the location,” explained Jordan Kobritz, Wichita Wind Surge Chief Executive Officer.
The pandemic canceling the planned 2020 season, which was originally supposed to be the inaugural season for the Wichita Wind Surge.
“We had no revenue. Fortunately, we had a pretty good pre-sale, sponsorship, and tickets leading up to the hoped-for 2020 season, so that helped us,” Kobritz said. “A lot of clubs, including us, lived off lines of credit.”
Some U.S. lawmakers are stepping up to the plate to bring relief to MiLB teams, giving them access to grants similar to those given to restaurants and event venues.
“If you lose one restaurant, there’s 100 more in the community, hotels, same thing. People work hard, they have significant investments, but it’s not one and done,” Kobritz said. “A minor league team is one and done.”
Kobritz said they are not in a dire situation, but the funds would help.
The Minor League Baseball Relief Act would repurpose $550 million from the COVID-19 relief funds. However, the money would only be available to teams that aren’t majority-owned by major league teams.
“It can be used for your basic expenses payroll, utilities, rent, and those are items that every minor league team has.”
Mayor Brandon Whipple said if the bill passes, it would have an impact beyond the Wind Surge.
“We want to keep the team as strong as possible. We want to make sure that you know if there are any funds available, they get it. Because frankly, they are attracting customers to those other small businesses in the area,” he said.
The bill is still making its way through committees. KSN reached out to Kansas lawmakers for their thoughts. None were available to comment.