Coronavirus: MLB debating playing games at spring training ballparks without fans, per report
The league is reportedly considering playing in empty spring training ballparks to start the 2020 season
Major League Baseball, like many sports leagues around the world, has been shut down indefinitely because of the. Spring training was canceled on March 12 and 2020 Opening Day has been , and that remains subject to change as the situation develops.
MLB, along with the MLBPA, has discussed a variety of scenarios for the 2020 regular and postseason, including doubleheaders and extending the season into October. Now, MLB is considering playing in empty spring training ballparks in Florida and Arizona, with no fans and all while quarantining players. From Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
MLB is prioritizing public health as it examines all possibilities, sources say. The season, at least initially, could be played in Florida or more likely Arizona, where spring training parks are more concentrated. But the logistics of quarantining 30 teams in one area would be extremely complex and potentially controversial, sources say, requiring local, state and federal government cooperation and resources that might be necessary to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
As Rosenthal notes, the Premier League is NBA is also with a truncated playoff tournament in Las Vegas.and finishing its season with televised games from empty stadiums. The
Obviously, there are many concerns that arise from this proposed format for the return of baseball. There's the issue of gathering all the 40-roster players from every MLB club, most players have left spring training complexes to return home to their families, and who they might have come in contact with during that time or while they return back to the spring training ballparks could pose a risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
The responsibility would fall on the league for protecting not only the players and coaching staff, but also the umpires, those producing the television broadcasts as well as hotel staff, bus drivers and anyone else who might require direct involvement with the players and games. Plus, finding and using health care supplies for these games would be another issue. Take this worst-case scenario from Rosenthal:
As an example, the official cited the possibility of a hotel worker going home, catching the virus and bringing it back into the baseball environment the next day. The effect might be similar to what occurs on a cruise ship. Infections would spread rapidly, and the sport again would need to shut down.
Diverting resources from health care would be another concern. Baseball would need to conduct wide-ranging testing for the virus, isolate anyone who gets sick and provide proper medical attention. Such an effort would require outside assistance, the kind of resources the league could not justify drawing away from the general population in the middle of a public health crisis.
When MLB originally looked into formulating alternative plans for regular season games, the league was thinking about using different sites for games once the 2020 regular season got underway in late March, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal reports.
Since MLB commissioner Rob Manfred officially announced the delay of the start of the 2020 season, the federal government has extended through April 30, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended against gatherings of 50 or more through at least May 10, and nearly all of the 50 U.S. states have ordered stay-at-home and shelter-in-place mandates.
CBS News has the latest updates about the virus, which has affected various sports globally and in the United States. Here at CBS Sports we have a running updates on how sports leagues are responding to coronavirus.
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