Yankees cut ties with Staten Island; future of ballpark unclear

For the first time since 1999, Staten Island is without a professional baseball team. The New York Yankees announced that the organization was cutting ties with its short-season Single-A affiliate on Staten Island.

In a statement, the Staten Island club said it found out about the big league club's decision via social media.

"The Staten Island Yankees made every effort to accommodate MLB and New York Yankees requirements, including securing a commitment from New York City for ballpark upgrades," the Staten Island Yankees said in a statement. "However, MLB and the Yankees choose not to engage in any discussions with us. We were unaware of the final decision and learned about it by reading the statement on Yankees social media."

Staten Island Borough President Oddo said he understands why the MLB Yankees chose to move on. Richmond County Bank Ballpark in the St. George neighborhood has been underutilized since it was built, he said. Poor attendance has been an issue.

"Staten Islanders just can't have it both ways — they can't bemoan the fact that we lost the Staten Island Yankees and curse the New York Yankees and not show up to the stadium," Oddo said.

He added that attracting Staten Islanders to come to the stadium for non-baseball events is crucial.

"We have not reached the level of success that we all envisioned when the taxpayers put $70 million to build the stadium," Oddo said.

In 2019, the team saw its lowest average attendance in nearly a decade. But Oddo remains committed to not allowing the stadium to sit vacant.

"It's up to us to find another brand of baseball," Oddo said, "but also leverage this moment to finally make the stadium a bigger part of the Staten Island community."

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