Report: MLB Likely to Start 2020 Season Without Fans Because of COVID-19

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 26:  Dodger Stadium is viewed on what was supposed to be Major League Baseball's opening day, now postponed due to the coronavirus, on March 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles Dodgers were slated to play against the San Francisco Giants at the stadium today. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is not optimistic that the league will play a full 162 game regular season due to the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Should MLB finally begin its 2020 season, the games will likely be played without any fans in attendance, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman.

Sherman spoke to a team executive who said closing stadiums to the public will allow for an earlier start: "By a matter of weeks, we will be able to play games without crowds [before we can play games] with them."

Another official speculated playing without fans will be the "only way we play" until the COVID-19 pandemic is contained.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Thursday that MLB and the MLB Players Association reached an agreement regarding player salaries and service time with the season on hold. The deal included language about the potential resumption of play.

The parties were hopeful of getting training camps started in mid-May and then beginning games in June.

Sherman added that MLB and the MLBPA agreed to wait until government officials give the green light for large public events again. Commissioner Rob Manfred will also need to feel comfortable there won't be "unreasonable health and safety risk to players, staff, or spectators" by staging games.

A June restart might be too optimistic given the recent rise in coronavirus cases in the United States. The U.S. has more confirmed cases (165,874) than any other country, per CNN.

Toronto Mayor John Tory on Tuesday announced the cancellation of all major events through June 30 to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. That presumably rules out home games for the Toronto Blue Jays until July at the earliest.

Rob Longley @longleysunsport

#Bluejays perspective on the cancellation of Toronto sports events through June 30: There were 44 home dates scheduled at the Rogers Centre from April 26-June 30, more than half of the 81.

Simply prohibiting fans from attending games may not be enough to allow for baseball to return in the near future.