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Rob Manfred Says MLB Teams Combined for $3 Billion in Losses Amid COVID-19

Jenna CiccotelliContributor IIIOctober 21, 2020

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred watches Game 1 of the baseball World Series Tuesday between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oct. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

After the COVID-19 pandemic forced 898 regular-season games to go on without fans this summer, MLB's 30 teams dropped a combined total of $3 billion in operating losses. 

"The clubs have done a really good job locally and we tried to do a good job centrally," Manfred told Ronald Blum of the Associated Press. "The liquidity is sufficient to get us through 2020. I think if we’re faced with limited activity next year and the kind of losses that we suffered this year, again, it will become more of a problem." 

While the league was able to account for the 40 percent of revenue that was lost due to a lack of "gate-related" growth, Manfred said he is worried about the future financial situation of the league if the pandemic does not improve in time for fans to attend games next year.

"We understand what happens with fans is going to be a product of what happens with the virus, what decisions public health authorities make in terms of mass gatherings," he said. "It is a huge issue for us in terms of the economics of the game."

While the league would like to do away with the loss of revenue come the 2020-21 season, Manfred noted that he hoped to keep extra-inning runners and expanded playoffs (though not with 16 teams) moving forward. He also "was pleased" with requiring pitchers to see three batters or close half innings. 

Alternatively, union head Tony Clark was not so quick to endorse the continuation of the changes in the future, sharing his thoughts in an email to the Associated Press:

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"We made a number of one-year changes this season under unique circumstances. We are gathering feedback from players and we’ll bring that to the league at the appropriate time. Obviously, protecting health and safety will remain among several important considerations as those talks unfold."