MLB Talks Hosting All Games In Arizona Starting In May

On Monday, Major League Baseball  discussed a plan that could start the baseball season as early as May, with all games played in empty ballparks in Arizona amid the coronavirus outbreak.

But before you shout, “Play Ball,” the plan is still in its early stages and the catch is the ballparks would be empty.

It supposedly has the support of high-ranking federal public health officials who believe it can safely operate during the coronavirus pandemic and has been embraced as the most likely option so far by the MLB and Players Association leadership. 

This plan does have some major obstacles to overcome. “It allows for immediacy of a schedule, where you might be able to begin it and televise it, provide Major League Baseball to America,” said high-profile baseball agent, Scott Boras. “I think players are willing to do what’s necessary because I think they understand the importance of baseball for their own livelihoods and for the interest of our country and providing a necessary product that gives all the people that are isolated enjoyment.”

In the proposed plan, all 30 teams would play games at the Phoenix area ballparks with no fans in attendance. ESPN reported the fields include Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field, 10 spring training facilities and additional fields. Compared to other spring training states like Florida, the ballparks in Arizona are within an area of just 50 miles. To limit the potential spread of the virus, players and staff would be isolated at local hotels and travel only to and from the stadiums.

“It gives them a sense of a return to some normalcy,” Boras added. “You talk to a psychologist about it and they say it’s really good for a culture to have sport and to have a focus like that, where for a few hours a day they can take their minds off the difficult reality of the virus.”

While the plan seems like a great alternative to the current situation of no MLB games, there are a few downside to this proposal. There will be a separation of players and families for an extended period of time, an estimated four month period.

“You’re going to be largely separated from your families and you’re going to have to function in a very contained way. It’s not a normal life, this idea,” Boras said. “You’re going to have an identified group of people. You’re going to have a constantly tested group of people. And you’re going to have a very limited access of those people to the outside world so that you can assure a very uncontaminated league.”

In addition, a major component missing will be the absence of fans. This means a lack of ticket sales, which is the main source of revenue for the league. However, according to ESPN, money would still be generated from additional television broadcasts

While the official baseball’s season was set to start on March 26, spring training was halted on March 12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended restricting events of more than 50 people for eight weeks, MLB said it would not open until mid-May at the earliest.

ESPN reports this proposed plan would be tested during a two or three-week training camp, with the season beginning after that. There will be an attempt to play as full a season as is possible, and this plan would enable the season to start while waiting for health and government officials to determine whether it is safe to resume play in regular-season ballparks, with the travel that would entail.


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