NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball’s minor leagues canceled their seasons Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the head of their governing body said more than half of the 160 teams were in danger of failing without government assistance or private equity injections. The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body founded in September 1901, made the long-expected announcement. The minors had never missed a season.

“We are a fans-in-the-stands business. We don’t have national TV revenues,” National Association president Pat O’Conner said during a digital news conference. “There was a conversation at one point: Well, can we play without fans? And that was one of the shortest conversations in the last six months. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

O’Conner said many minor league teams had received money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act.

O’Conner estimated 85-90% of revenue was related to ticket money, concessions, parking, and ballpark advertising. The minors drew 41.5 million fans last year for 176 teams in 15 leagues, averaging 4,044 fans per game.

In addition, the Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and minors expires September 30, and MLB has proposed reducing the minimum affiliates from 160 to 120.

MLB teams are planning for a 60-game regular season and most of their revenue will derive from broadcast money.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app