MLB weighing up starting 2020 season in one location
Major League Baseball is considering starting the delayed season with games in a single location, with Phoenix in the south-west state of Arizona reported to be one of the options.
However, the league has said that is not yet committed to the proposal.
The MLB campaign was due to get under way on 26 March only to be delayed because of the global coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN has reported that the league is working on a plan under which the season could start in May with all 30 teams playing games behind closed doors in the Phoenix area, including Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and local spring training facilities.
It is envisaged that the players, coaches and other personnel would stay in relative isolation at nearby hotels, and travel out only to participate in the games.
Any such proposal would require the support of the MLB Players Association and federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute of Health.
In a statement today, the league said: “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. 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.
“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.”
Staging games in a single location presents various logistical challenges and the proposal is contingent on an improvement in the national health situation and readily available testing for the players, with a June start seen as more realistic than a May one in many quarters.
Meanwhile, ice hockey’s National Hockey League is reported to be considering focusing games in a single area when it is able to resume after the pandemic.
North Dakota is among the locations being looked at to stage remaining regular season and postseason games, with the University of North Dakota’s Ralph Engelstad Arena the prime location, according to Canada’s Sportsnet website.
The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association are expected to discuss other potential sites for the season climax this week.
It was reported last week that the NBA was considering Las Vegas as the possible sole host of games in the remainder of its 2019-20 season when play resume.
NBA was considering Las Vegas as the possible sole host of games in the remainder of its 2019-20 season when play resumes.
A report from MediaRadar has claimed that, with sport at a standstill, North America's major leagues could lose more than $1 billion in advertising revenue as a result of the pandemic.
However, following a conference call with commissioners of the major leagues, US president Donald Trump expressed hope that the NFL season will begin on time in September, and that other leagues can return by late summer, with fans in attendance again by August and September.