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City Leaders Fight to Save Lowell Spinners After Proposal From MLB

A proposal by Major League Baseball would cut ties with the Spinners and 41 other minor league clubs after the current contract expires this fall

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Officials in Lowell, Massachusetts, are putting up a fight against a proposal from Major League Baseball that would cut affiliations with some minor league teams including the Lowell Spinners.

For 25 years, fans have packed Edward LeLacheur Park to watch the minor league team, but now, team leaders say if the MLB gets its way, it could be the end of an era.

"It would break our hearts," Lowell Spinners General Manager Shawn Smith said.

State and local leaders packed the Spinners' clubhouse on Tuesday, where they are stepping up to the plate to save what they call one of the city's greatest assets.

"Everybody is here showing their support for the Lowell Spinners," said U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, who hosted the event.

A proposal by the MLB would cut ties with the Spinners and 41 other minor league clubs after the current contract expires this fall.

"This is a fight worth fighting for," Trahan said.

The congresswoman is part of a task force on Capitol Hill working to save Minor League Baseball.

"For many people, it's their only access to professional baseball because they can't afford a ticket to a major league game," she said.

For Lowell, the economic impact is huge.

City Manager Eileen Donoghue says the affiliate of the Boston Red Sox draws tens of thousands of families every year who visit the city and spend their money here.

"It would be a devastating blow to the city," Donoghue said.

The MLB argues that the proposed reorganization is necessary to improve conditions for lower-level minor leaguers. In a written statement to NBC, the MLB said, in part, it doesn't want to eliminate any minor league club.

"Minor league baseball owners have refused to bear any portion of the contemplated cost increases for improving facilities, working conditions and pay," the MLB said. "Instead, they've indicated that they would prefer to simply eliminate franchises."

Back in the Spinners' clubhouse, the sentiment is quite the opposite.

"We're going to fight like hell to keep them here," Lowell Mayor John Leahy said.

Team managers said they want to make it clear the MLB proposal is far from a done deal. They're now asking every single fan to join the effort to save the Spinners.

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