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Curve offered by Bucs to stay

Altoona franchise reviewing new deal

The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Altoona Curve both released announcements Wednesday that Altoona has been extended an invitation to remain the Double-A affiliate of the Pirates.

Major League Baseball is dropping the number of minor league teams directly affiliated with MLB franchises from 160 to 120 teams this season, though not many expected the Curve to be on the chopping block.

“Baseball is a small fraternity,” Altoona Curve General Manager Derek Martin said. “We know we have a gem of a stadium. We know we fit very well into what the Pirates were looking for being only 98 miles from Pittsburgh and we have had a great relationship with the Pirates the last 21 years and it has been incredible. We look forward to continuing that, but it gets a little frustrating, not with the Pirates, but with Major League Baseball that we don’t know what we’re getting into yet.”

Martin explained the Curve franchise must review the new agreement before accepting the invitation.

“We have the invitation to continue being that partner, now we just wait get clarification on what all is involved with that. We have to make a decision on what’s best for our ballclub, our community, our sponsors and ultimately our fans,” Martin said. “We haven’t seen anything that is required in the PDL, which are player development licenses. We don’t know what’s in there. An analogy is a real estate agent, which is basically the invite, but you have to sign all the bank loan papers and buy the house before you have seen it. I don’t know of a business that operates that way, so we have to wait to get the documents and what it looks like, review it and have that discussion with our ownership group and legal counsel to make sure everything is in line to move forward.”

The Pirates stressed the importance of sticking with their current affiliations.

“We are excited and proud to present the opportunity to continue our long-standing partnerships with the Indianapolis Indians, Altoona Curve, and, of course, the City of Bradenton with the Marauders. We are equally excited to have the chance to continue to build upon our relationship with our newest affiliate the Greensboro Grasshoppers,” Pirates President Travis Williams said. “The player development system is always going to be critical to our future success at the Major League level. It is more important than ever that we partner with affiliate organizations that share in this commitment to our players and facilities.”

Martin said his staff will have several meetings the next few days.

“We will have to meet with Logan Township, we’ll meet with (Altoona mayor) Matt Pacifico and we will have discussions with the county commissioners, because this is a community ballpark,” Martin said. “The franchise is run by the Lozinaks, but it is a county-owned ballpark.”

Martin said it isn’t clear yet whether the Eastern League will continue to exist in its current format but noted that only one team from the 2019 Eastern League season was not included in Wednesday’s announcement.

“From the list of teams, the only one that changed in the Eastern League is Somerset (N.J.) replaced Trenton,” Martin said. “But we haven’t seen anything, and the hard part is that we’ve been having to gather information from leaks on social media. We typically get our schedule in June, but from the sounds of it, we may not get a schedule until February. That’s tough for us as a staff and for our community partners as well. There’s a lot of planning that needs to go into the season.”

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