Major League Baseball stated Tuesday that holding games in one central area is one of several ideas discussed regarding how and when it becomes safe to start the season.
But, the league added, that option has not been settled on and has not been submitted for approval from government and health officials or the Major League Baseball Players Assn.
The statement came a day after ESPN reported that a plan to start the season as early as May with all games taking place in the Phoenix area with no spectators present has been embraced by the league and the players’ union with support from “high-ranking federal public health officials.” The Associated Press reported that such a plan was discussed Monday during a phone call between the MLB and the MLBPA.
“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 league said in its statement. “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 Assn. “
The Arizona plan would involve the sequestering of players, coaching staffs and other essential personnel at local hotels, with only travel to and from stadiums allowed. There are 11 ballparks, including the Diamondbacks’ home, Chase Field, within 50 miles of each other in the Phoenix area. Most are spring training facilities.
Agent Scott Boras told the Associated Press he thinks players would be largely supportive of the plan.
“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 said.
But, he added, such a life would not be easy for players and others involved.
“You’re going to be largely separated from your families and you’re going to have to function in a very contained way. It’s not a normal life, this idea,” Boras said. “You’re going to have an identified group of people. You’re going to have a constantly tested group of people. And you’re going to have a very limited access of those people to the outside world so that you can assure a very uncontaminated league, if you will, to produce a product that is inspirational to our country.”
The plan is purely speculative at this point, MLB stressed in its statement.
“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,” the league stated.