Report: MLB Considering Playing in Empty Spring Training Parks

Publish date:

As MLB weighs its options for potentially holding the 2020 season, the league has considered quarantining teams and playing in spring training parks without fans, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

The season could at least open in Florida or Arizona where teams' spring sites are clustered together, but there are many challenges for MLB to examine amid the coronavirus pandemic. Sources told Rosenthal that the league is "prioritizing public health" during this time.

If MLB quarantined players for games, it would have to not only worry about their health and safety but also team personnel, referees, bus drivers and hotel workers. Some people also fret over the economic impact of playing in empty stadiums, which would generate less revenue without ticket sales. However, a league official told Rosenthal that "keeping fans, players and others healthy would be a far greater challenge, one that, at least short-term, can not necessarily be solved."

A possible date for Opening Day remains up in the air as the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide. It is also uncertain if or when games could be held in front of fans. The federal government recently extended social distancing guidelines through April 30, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended against gatherings of 50 people or more through at least May 10. 

Commissioner Rob Manfred initially postponed the start of the season for two weeks on March 20, but it quickly became apparent that the season would likely not start before May. MLB and MLBPA reached an agreement last week for owners to pay players an advance of $170 million for April and May. If the season ends up being canceled, the players will keep the money.

Other sports leagues are reportedly weighing if they can find ways to continue their seasons during this uncertain time. The Premier League is reportedly considering quarantining teams to complete the season behind closed doors. The games could potentially be televised. Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix reported this week that the NBA is exploring the feasibility of holding its entire postseason in Las Vegas.