MLB Considering Playing Regular Season Games at Empty Spring Training Stadiums

The league would quarantine all 30 teams in hopes of minimizing risk.

MLB Spring Training
A view of the New York Yankees Spring Training facility at George M. Steinbrenner Field on March 18, 2020.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
By Luis Paez-Pumar / April 5, 2020 1:57 pm

Despite delaying the start of its 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball is reportedly considering playing regular season games in its spring training games, with no fans in attendance. That’s according to a report by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who said that MLB is weighing the health risks associated with quarantining 30 teams in one area for games, likely to be in Arizona:

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.

Beyond the concern of a player catching the coronavirus and spreading it, there’s also the increased risk from staff required to host games. Rosenthal notes that this is a possibility especially since teams would likely be quarantined in hotels:

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.

MLB is not the only league worldwide said to be considering a similar option; the Premier League has explored that same possibility to finish off the last quarter of its season, while the NBA had discussed a playoff tournament in Las Vegas to a crown a 2019-2020 champion. Neither of those leagues is reported to be close to a deal that would help them finish their seasons, but with MLB throwing its hat into the mix, it seems likely that leagues will continue to explore the possibility.

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