Major League Baseball issued a public statement Tuesday morning amid multiple reports of a proposed plan that would start the 2020 season with all 30 teams in Arizona, playing games at Chase Field and 10 spring training parks.
“MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so,” the statement from the league read.
MLB and the players union have discussed scenarios that would involve players and team personnel being sequestered in the Phoenix area, and plans that would require the kind of widespread coronavirus testing that doesn’t exist yet. The plan, in its most ambitious form, would mean starting games as early as May or perhaps early June, per multiple reports.
Under a plan supported by some leading members of three federal agencies, major leaguers would not sit bunched up together in a dugout but six feet away from each other in the stands, practicing social distancing. They would exist in a sealed environment, moving only between ballparks and hotels. And, perhaps most intriguing from the government’s perspective, they would serve as a model for how the nation could reignite the economy.
There are, to put it mildly, several logistical hurdles to clear for such a plan to work. And it’s important to note that this is really only in the discussion phase between MLB and the union.
“While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan,” MLB said in a statement. “While we continue to interact regularly with governmental and public health officials, we have not sought or received approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or the Players Association.
“The health and safety of our employees, players, fans and the public at large are paramount, and we are not ready at this time to endorse any particular format for staging games in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the coronavirus.”