As states begin to loosen the reins on stay-at-home orders, optimism has risen on if and when sports can possibly resume.
A few contingency plans on how Major League Baseball could possibly kickstart the regular season have been made public. ESPN reported the recently-dubbed "Arizona plan," which includes playing in empty stadiums at the several spring training ballparks exclusively in Arizona. USA Today reported another empty-stadium plan, but where MLB would also radically realign the leagues and divisions to the structure of the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues in Spring Training to minimize travel and spread players out over two states.
The most recently reported idea is a three-state plan that includes utilizing empty major and minor league ballparks in Arizona, Florida, and Texas. There are five major league ballparks in those three states, all of which have retractable or permanent roofs, giving MLB all kinds of flexibility for hosting multiple games per day and having no more than a four-hour drive between ballparks where certain teams are assigned.
"It's been one of the ideas that's been put out there," Texas Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels said via conference call on Monday. "Depending on the variety of the other factors, it makes a lot of sense given the nature of the market, the proximity to a lot of the facilities, the quality of those facilities, not just baseball, but also hotels and other things you'd need."
With the $1.2 billion construction of Globe Life Field, the brand new home of the Texas Rangers, MLB has another asset at their disposal when conjuring up any possible solutions for finally getting the regular season underway. While there are many advantages to the three-state plan, including the use of more major league ballparks and keeping a lesser amount of teams in one location, it is still just another idea in a myriad of many others.
"We've had some involvement just from a due diligence standpoint, helping the league gather information," Daniels said. "I just want to stress that's really what it is at this point, it's one of several ideas the league is flushing out...There's a host of things that they are looking at."
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Texas governor Greg Abbott announced on Monday that he is allowing his stay-at-home orders to expire on Thursday as the state begins an effort to reopen its economy. Texas is not the first state to begin implementing policies and procedures to open things back up. Several other states are in various stages of reopening businesses as well. Still as recently as Monday, the Rangers have not been given any direction from MLB that they should begin to prepare for anything different.
"We've gotten no direction that would indicate we should change what we're thinking," Daniels said. "We're continuing to do what we can from a distance, to keep our players in some state of readiness, but we have not began planning for any sort of restart."
The original Opening Day was scheduled for March 26, now over a month ago. On March 15, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommended that all events of 50 or more people be postponed or canceled, thus shutting down the sports world in one fell swoop. In the meantime, pitchers like Corey Kluber are contriving ways to work out at home and stay as ready as possible for when team activities can resume.
"We'll be ready. It won't take us long to get ramped up," Daniels said. "I think we've done a pretty good job of staying in touch and thinking through possibilities."
The CDC's current recommendation expires on May 10, which is also Mother's Day. It's unclear of when the next set of guidelines or recommendations will come from public health officials. In the meantime, MLB can keep mulling over new ideas to help expedite the start of the regular season.
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