A plan to start the MLB season in May with games in Arizona is being discussed by MLB and the MLBPA. Jeff Passan of ESPN reported Monday night that the plan has support from high-ranking health officials who believe that the plan allows for safe operations.
NEWS: Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are focusing on a plan backed by federal health officials that could have players in training camps by May and games soon thereafter.
Details at ESPN on how MLB may return — and the difficulty in doing so: https://t.co/zDoNa3k4pm
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 7, 2020
The plan entails all 30 MLB teams playing their games in the Phoenix area. This includes using facilities such as Chase Field, the Arizona Diamondbacks home ballpark. It utilizes a handful of other Spring Training ballparks, all with no fans in attendance.
Reports surfaced on Friday about playing in empty stadiums, but the safety of personnel was a concern. This plan calls for players, coaches, and other essential staff members to isolate in local hotels during the season.
This situation remains fluid. While reports indicate that some health officials back this plan, MLB released a statement Tuesday morning indicating that they have not yet sought or received approval from federal health officials. They understand the severity of the pandemic is still high, and ensuring the safety of all parties involved is paramount. Therefore, they do not have a concrete plan at this time nor are they settling on that option.
MLB’s statement on planning discussions. pic.twitter.com/cBOl3A4817
— David Lennon (@DPLennon) April 7, 2020
Development of Discussions
During this unprecedented time, fans everywhere have wondered when it may be safe enough for the season to return. The situation has continued to evolve over the last few weeks, bringing hope of a sooner return than expected.
On March 27th, MLB and the MLBPA came to an agreement in regards to pay structure for the 2020 season. Additionally, the agreement states that the season would not start until deemed safe by health officials. This includes no bans on mass gatherings barring the possibility of potential neutral site substitutes, no travel restrictions, and no health risks present for staff.
As noted, reports arose on Friday about the possibility of playing games without fans. Playing in empty stadiums and arenas was a precaution taken across the sports world before the epidemic escalated to the point of suspending play.
Earlier on Monday, the possibility of playing games exclusively in Arizona came out. Arizona does not classify as a hot spot for COVID-19 at this time. Currently, they have the 22nd-most cases.
These talks culminated with the news Passan reported about the possibility of a May start later Monday night.
While this plan sounds feasible, it still comes with its potential issues. These issues range from personal to logistical to economical. As discussions continue, these issues and more will be considered and attempts to combat them implemented.
In spite of the potential roadblocks, Passan reports that this plan motivates both MLB and the MLBPA. While there are no approvals this plan can come to fruition, then baseball will be the first sport to return to action in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images