Despite a failed rumor the Minor League season was going to be canceled, there will be no baseball for the Wichita Wind Surge if there are no fans.
According to Pacific Coast League President Branch Rickey, that goes for all Pacific Coast League teams.
"Without fans in the seats, there is no baseball," Rickey said. "It is as simple as that."
The PCL is the 16-team league where the Wind Surge will play their season. It’s a large geographical league that stretches from Nashville, Tennessee to Tacoma, Washington.
For now, the Wind Surge have already missed 22 of their scheduled 144 games, approximately 15 percent of their season.
According to Rickey, the MLB has its TV contracts and other sources of revenue while the minors rely largely on gate, concession and merchandise revenue to fund the organization. Most minor league teams are often privately owned.
Twenty-seven of the 150 full-season MiLB teams are owned by a major league team, leaving the rest of the teams to find their own revenue.
The Wind Surge were set to make some money, too — a new city full of new gear and ticket sales that saw the Wind Surge sell out their opening day tickets within 45 minutes, with some waiting in line in-person at 5:45 a.m.
The Wind Surge relocated from New Orleans as the Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins. The City of Wichita invested $75 million into tearing down and building a new stadium where Lawrence Dumont Stadium once stood.
There are other financial factors that would want teams to play, outside of the obvious growth in development of the players. They need to make money. The Wind Surge need to pay their annual management fee of $350,000 to the City of Wichita. The city has delayed the first payment until the franchise can start making money, which would mean there would be fans in the seats.
There are multiple variations of the schedule for now, with team blocks being the primary point of those scheduling conflicts.
"We will wait until teams are in training camp to finalize the schedules," Rickey said. "One flare up could change it all. So, we don’t want to put something now and be stuck with it."
For now, the stadium sits unused and waiting for the first crack of the bat.
When that will be? No one knows.