MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — The Rocket City Trash Pandas kicked off their season with a game in Birmingham on Friday. Like last year, players are happy to be back in the Rocket City and back to playing in front of fans at Toyota Field.
However, this year they are also happy to have housing provided for them. In November of 2021, Major League Baseball announced a new Minor League Housing Policy.
That policy requires parent clubs to pay for furnished housing for minor league players during spring training and baseball season.
News 19 reached out to Trash Pandas General Manager, Garrett Fahrmann, to learn how the organization has implemented the policy. He says the team has nine 2-bedroom units in a brand new apartment complex.
The Trash Pandas are a Double A affiliate of the Los Angles Angels. Fahrmann says the Angels are paying for the apartments.
He said, “they were able to locate a brand new housing complex here.” He continued to say, “we’ve got the whole entire team in the same complex which is kind of unheard of in this market.”
Last season, several players spoke out about the struggles of finding affordable housing, and finding housing quickly.
In a prior interview with News 19, former Trash Pandas player Kieran Lovegrove, said “(the MiLB) putting it on the players to find a place to live on a short term lease, within a budget, that may or may not have furniture, most of them don’t, plus you have to get a mattress, and you have do that in a very short period of time where you’re getting ready to go in to your first few games of the year.”
The nature of Minor League ball, means players could be traded to another affiliate anytime during the season. Fahrmann said, “sometimes they are here for two days, and sometimes they are here for you know five months, that’s what kind of makes it different.” He continued, “these guys are being told where to go, when to go, and I think with this new housing arrangement is just going to give these guys a lot of piece of mind that hey, I’m going to move to a new city and I’m going to have a place to live and and I don’t have to worry about that, so that’s big.”
Now, with the new housing in place, players don’t have to worry about spending their paycheck on a hotel room, or high rent prices.
Left handed pitcher, Kolton Ingram is in his second season with the Trash Pandas. He said, “just being able to save money on rent and put it towards feeding ourselves better and stuff like that makes a world of difference.” He said it was a bit “worrisome” for some players last season trying to find affordable housing.
News 19 also spoke with infielder Braxton Martinez about the new housing situation. He said, “I mean like I said before it’s a huge stress relief, like physically, emotionally, financially, everything about it is all really positive.”
With housing taken care of, the team can focus on what they are in north Alabama to do. “Our whole focus now can just be on baseball, and trying to get better and develop as best we can, and not have to worry about where we’ll be staying night by night” said left handed pitcher, Jack Dashwood. He continued, “you know we have a place to go, so yeah, it’s a good setup.”