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Chiefs GM says MLB lockout won’t impact Peoria's baseball season

A Peoria Chiefs batter takes a swing during the team's 2021 home opener at Dozer Park.
Emily Bollinger
A Peoria Chiefs batter takes a swing during the team's 2021 home opener at Dozer Park.

Peoria Chiefs general manager Jason Mott is optimistic fans won't sour on baseball during a labor dispute between Major League owners and players.

While the work stoppage could threaten spring training and potentially delay the start of the MLB season, Mott reassures fans who wonder if that might impact games here.

“The good news is: it won't,” said Mott. “We're going to play here. We're going to have 66 games this year and we're going to start on April 12. Them locking out really doesn't affect us, and the reason is the only people that are locked out are people on the 40-man rosters.”

Jason Mott
Jason Mott

None of the players who appeared with the Chiefs in 2021 are currently on the St. Louis Cardinals’ 40-man roster. Mott said if the Chiefs did have any players on the 40-man, they would not be able to include them in any marketing or promotions during the lockout.

Negotiations between MLB and the players’ union resumed last week for the first time since the lockout began on Dec. 1 when their collective bargaining agreement expired. The MLBPA is expected to present a counteroffer to the owners’ most recent proposal on Monday.

Mott says he's not overly concerned that fans disgruntled by the big-league dispute will sour on the sport entirely and stay away from Dozer Park.

“I don't think so,” he said. “The way I look at it, I feel like we're two separate entities and we operate differently. You know, I think a lot of people go to a Major League Baseball game because they want to see their team win. When you come to the Peoria Chiefs, it's more about the experience –coming down and having a good time.”

After the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the entire 2020 season, the Chiefs saw attendance fall to just less than 70,000 last season – an average of about 1,200 fans per game. Mott partly attributed the decline to being unable to roll over group ticket packages from the year before, and the team already has a better outlook for 2022.

“I think we still could be a year or two away from whatever normal is,” he said. “But we're seeing some people excited about coming back out, which is great. I think that gives us some optimism.”

Mott says if the MLB labor dispute does cut into the regular season, the Chiefs can fill that professional baseball void.

“If for some reason the lockout drags and the season doesn't get going, we'll still be here to provide baseball (for fans) from anywhere between St. Louis and Chicago,” he said.

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.