A decision by a Major League Baseball owner to shutter a Minnesota helmet manufacturer has drawn the wrath of the state's junior senator, who is publicly calling out the decision as a cash grab that will cause the community "significant hardship."
This past week, it was reported that Miken Sports — which makes helmets for MLB players, among other baseball gear — would close in the next 18 to 24 months, delivering an economic blow to Caledonia, Minnesota, a city of about 2,800 in the southeastern tip of the state.
In a "strongly worded" letter, Sen. Tina Smith called on Miken's owner as well as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to reverse the planned closure, and "instead commit to making long-term investments in the plant."
She points out that the decision would cause "the layoffs of about 80 workers and the elimination of one of the largest employers in the small, rural city."
"Adding to my outrage is the fact that you will reportedly be moving Miken's bat production to China, which flies in the face ofMLB's status as an iconic American sports league," Smith added.
Miken Sports is co-owned by Seidler Equity Partners as well as the MLB, per a news release from Smith's office.
Seidler's co-founder and managing director Peter Seidler also owns the San Diego Padres, the release notes.
In her letter, Smith accuses Miken's owners of closing the Caledonia plant "in an apparent effort to squeeze an extra $4 million to $10 million in profit from your recent acquisition of another equipment manufacturer, Easton Diamond Sports, by offshoring bat production from Caledonia to Easton's factory in China."
This is despite the fact that MLB teams "have benefitted from billions of dollars in state and local stadium subsidies, as well as federal tax breaks on stadium bonds," Smith says.
"In exchange for these taxpayer-funded benefits... Americans should be able to count on MLB to, at a minimum, avoid being complicit in the offshoring of U.S. jobs to China."
She finishes the letter by saying Americans should be "outraged" by the decision, and urging the entities to "promptly reverse this action."
BringMeTheNews has reached out to Seidler Equity Partners for comment.