MLB Reportedly Considering Playing in Empty Stadiums During Coronavirus Pandemic

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2020

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions at a press conference during MLB baseball owners meetings, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

Major League Baseball is reportedly considering starting the 2020 season with games at spring training sites in either Florida or Arizona without fans in attendance because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Friday the chances of playing games at home parks this summer with a crowd are becoming "increasingly remote," leading the league to consider alternatives. However, trying to station all 30 clubs in one area would be "extremely complex and potentially controversial" amid COVID-19.

There are numerous hurdles MLB would need to jump before making the plan reality.

Most notably, the league would need to create a testing system to ensure no mangers, coaches, players, television workers or other employees were sick when they arrived to the site. It would also have to do so without diverting healthcare workers or resources from the local community, per Rosenthal.

MLB and its players association would also need to reach an agreement on how to handle the lost revenue from ticket sales, concessions and other on-site purchases. Players are already set to receive prorated salaries based on the number of games played because of a prior deal with the league.

"Your margin of error is so small," a baseball official told The Athletic about trying to play games without someone getting sick and causing the operation to shut down.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement March 26, which was originally scheduled as Opening Day of the 2020 season, saying the league held the "unflinching determination required to navigate an entire baseball season to help us through the challenging situation currently facing us all."

"Throughout our history, baseball has helped us get through difficult times," Manfred said. "Baseball will continue to be here for you as we face these challenges together as a community, and we look forward to when we can safely get back on the field and hear the words, 'play ball.'"

He didn't provide a timetable for the league's potential resumption of play.