MLB and Private Equity Firm Co-Own Miken Sports; Firm Recently Announced that Caledonia, Minnesota Manufacturing Facility Will Be Closed, with Much of Production and Jobs Moved to China

WASHINGTON, D.C. [7/24/21]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) today told Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred and the owner of the San Diego Padres that all Americans should be outraged by their plans to close a major employer in rural Caledonia, Minn. The closure is expected to eliminate approximately 80 jobs in the community, with many of them moving offshore to China. 

In a strongly worded letter Saturday, Sen. Smith demanded MLB and Siedler Equity Partners reverse their decision to close Miken Sports’ Caledonia manufacturing facility, a long-time employer that produces baseball helmets for the MLB and non-wood bats for other baseball and softball players across the country. Miken is jointly-owned by the MLB and Seidler Equity Partners. Seidler Equity Partners Co-Founder and Managing Director Peter Seidler also owns the San Diego Padres baseball team.

“Caledonia has a population of about 2,800 and will face significant hardship from the loss of Miken’s jobs and community contributions,” Sen. Smith wrote. “Adding to my outrage is the fact that you will reportedly be moving Miken’s bat production to China, which flies in the face of MLB’s status as an iconic American sports league. I strongly urge you to reverse the planned closure of the Miken Sports production facility in Caledonia and instead commit to making long-term investments in the plant.”

Sen. Smith pointed out that Major League teams, including the Padres, have benefited from billions in taxpayer stadium subsidies, and that MLB has long benefitted from an exemption from federal anti-trust law and from relaxed overtime rules.

“In exchange for these taxpayer-funded benefits and special exemptions, Americans should be able to count on MLB to, at a minimum, avoid being complicit in the offshoring of U.S. jobs to China,” Sen. Smith wrote. “Unfortunately, MLB, in concert with Seidler Equity Partners, appears to be more focused on its bottom line than on honoring any commitments to American workers.”

You can read Sen. Smith’s letter here and below:

July 24, 2021
Mr. Rob Manfred
Commissioner of Baseball
Major League Baseball
1271 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

Mr. Peter Seidler
Mr. Robert Seidler
Mr. Eric Kutsenda
Co-Founders and Managing Partners
Seidler Equity Partners
4640 Admiralty Way, Suite 1200
Marina del Rey, CA 90292

Dear Commissioner Manfred, Mr. Seidler, Mr. Seidler, and Mr. Kutsenda,

I write to express my outrage and concern about the impending closure of Miken Sports’s Caledonia, Minnesota facility.  The Caledonia plant produces baseball helmets for Major League Baseball (MLB) players, as well as non-wood bats for a variety of baseball and softball leagues.  The facility closure is expected to cause the layoffs of about 80 workers and the elimination of one of the largest employers in the small, rural city of Caledonia.  Caledonia has a population of about 2,800 and will face significant hardship from the loss of Miken’s jobs and community contributions.  Adding to my outrage is the fact that you will reportedly be moving Miken’s bat production to China, which flies in the face of MLB’s status as an iconic American sports league.  I strongly urge you to reverse the planned closure of the Miken Sports production facility in Caledonia and instead commit to making long-term investments in the plant.

Major League Baseball and its teams, including the San Diego Padres, have benefitted from billions of dollars in state and local stadium subsidies, as well as federal tax breaks on stadium bonds.  Further, MLB has long benefitted from an exemption from federal anti-trust law, and recently lobbied for a special carve-out from federal overtime rules that was ultimately tucked in a 2018 government funding bill.  In exchange for these taxpayer-funded benefits and special exemptions, Americans should be able to count on MLB to, at a minimum, avoid being complicit in the offshoring of U.S. jobs to China.  Unfortunately, MLB, in concert with Seidler Equity Partners, appears to be more focused on its bottom line than on honoring any commitments to American workers.

The closure of the Miken manufacturing plant will leave the Caledonia community without a key employer and economic contributor.  Further, it will erase a key point of pride for the local community, who are proud of Miken’s role producing the helmets that have been used by MLB players to stay safe for years.   Despite the dedication of Miken’s workers, you are 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 type of transaction, in which wealthy private equity investors buy longstanding U.S. companies only to shut down American plants and move jobs overseas has left countless Midwest communities devastated while wealthy private equity investors – disconnected from the effects of their profit-driven decisions – reap a larger and larger share of our country’s income and wealth.  It’s time that this practice comes to an end.

Americans should be outraged by your decision to close Miken’s Caledonia baseball and softball equipment plant and move jobs to China.  I urge you to promptly reverse this action. 

Sincerely,

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