KENAI - An Alaska summer baseball squad is threatened by financial troubles, officials said.
The Peninsula Oilers summer collegiate baseball team is in jeopardy as it struggles to secure funding, The Peninsula Clarion reported Saturday.
The team is in its 46th consecutive season. But a decline in the Oilers' two major finance sources has put its future in question.
"Gaming is going down, and sponsorships are going down," said Michael Tice, Oilers board president.
The team won three National Baseball Congress World Series titles and saw 125 of its top college prospects move to the major leagues after playing at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
But the Oilers took in only $55,000 from gambling and $35,000 from sponsorships in 2018, Tice said.
When former independent Alaska Gov. Bill Walker signed a smoke-free workplace law in 2018, the Oilers' bingo hall banned smoking that summer. When cold weather arrived, the bingo hall's attendance and revenue decreased, Tice said.
The team also lost its corporate sponsors, said Diana Tice, a team executive assistant and Michael's wife.
"Small businesses are what's carrying us right now," she said.
The Oilers have drastically cut expenses - the coaching staff has taken over field maintenance - and the team counts dollars for every road trip.
"Funding has always been in place for us before the season started," she said. "It's not in place right now."
Despite ongoing fundraising efforts and donations, the situation "looks bleak," Michael Tice said.
“I want to stay positive about it, but it’s really looking negative right now,” Tice said.