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Financial woes force Billings Mustangs to lay off workers

Posted at 4:59 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 18:59:04-04

BILLINGS - The Billings Mustangs front office staff will be trimmed to one at the end of this month.

Workers were informed on Tuesday that three of the four employees will be laid off at the end of this month, Mustangs' controlling owner Dave Heller confirmed Tuesday to MTN Sports.

"It was one of the hardest calls I've ever had to make," Heller said of the conference call. "But the reality is, with Minor League Baseball in jeopardy, there's no work right now for some of these teams. If my staff can't work because there's no baseball, it doesn't make sense to be paying them."

Heller owns three minor league affiliates and said he has offered the laid-off Mustangs employees jobs with any of his other teams.

"I just want to do right by everybody that's worked for us in Billings," he said.

General Manager Gary Roller is the only front office staff member remaining. He wasn't available for comment on Tuesday but Heller did confirm that Roller will remain the GM this season with no furlough or pay cut.

"I'll tell you what I told Gary. I think he is a terrific, hard-working guy and I intend to keep him on board for the rest of this season and into next season when we're playing ball again," he said.

"I'd like everybody to know I've done everything possible to favor the Billings Mustangs and Minor League Baseball. Everything I can think of. If anybody has any ideas, I'd be open to hearing them."

Minor League Baseball across America continues to be an uncertainty right now. Major League Baseball owners are calling for a reduction of up to 42 minor league squads as part of a cost-saving move, including all teams in the Pioneer League. MLB's contract with minor league teams expires in September.

The COVID-19 pandemic isn't doing any favors for the sport. The primary concern for Major League owners is a return to the field for their clubs, which is said to be in July. Any minor league baseball to follow in 2020 is highly unlikely due to the logistics of scrambling to put an abbreviated season together.

The Mustangs were scheduled to open their season at home June 19 against Great Falls.