On Monday, April 6th 2020 the MLB and the players union discussed putting all 30 teams in Arizona and playing in empty ballparks for the remainder of the MLB season. This was among the ideas discussed Monday by Major League Baseball and the players’ association.
The MLB held a telephone call to talk about paths forward for a season delayed by the new coronavirus pandemic. Those who are familiar with the discussion told The Associated Press on Tuesday. They spoke on the conditions and the possibility but no details were further discussed.
Although ideas are still in the early stage, all MLB teams playing in Arizona would be an option that would have many obstacles to overcome before finalizing the decision. MLB issued a statement on Tuesday morning that backup plans to restart the season are still in the very early stages.
Half of the Major League Baseball clubs hold games in Arizona during spring training, the other half in Florida during spring as well.
Arizona’s advantage of this possible option is that there are already 10 spring training ballparks, plus the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field which are all within about 50 miles apart. Florida’s spring training ballparks are spread out by as much as 220 miles.
Scott Boras, who is a baseball agent had this to say about it, “It allows for immediacy of a schedule, where you might be able to begin it and televise it, provide Major League Baseball to America. I think players are willing to do what’s necessary because I think they understand the importance of baseball for their own livelihoods and for the interest of our country and providing a necessary product that gives all the people that are isolated enjoyment.”
Boras continued with, “It gives them a sense of a return to some normalcy. You talk to a psychologist about it and they say it’s it’s really good for a culture to have to have sport and to have a focus like that, where for a few hours a day they can take their minds off the difficult reality of the virus.”
The MLB 2020 season had been set to start March 26, but before the season started spring training was put to an early end on March 12. On March 12th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended restricting events of more than 50 people for at least 8 weeks. After this announcement, the MLB said it would not open until mid-May at the earliest, if possible.
The Major League Baseball and the union reached a deal March 26th, 2020 to advance $170 million in salary to players for the first 60 days of the season. Part of the deal is to have players receive only prorated portions of their salaries if the regular season is cut from its usual 162 games and would receive no additional salary if the season is scrapped.
Both sides have agreed to attempt to play as full a season if possible. This plan would enable the season to start while waiting for health and government officials to determine whether it is safe to resume play in regular-season ballparks, with the travel that the season would involve.