Major League Baseball, like every other sports league, is working to find a viable option to salvage its season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
While MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said on Tuesday that he is in no rush to launch the season, and will not do so until it’s completely safe for everyone involved, an idea that has been introduced was to have a potential isolated season played out in empty spring training stadiums in Arizona and Florida.
That idea has plenty of logistical issues to be figured out, and received quite a bit of pushback. Should the MLB want to have all 30 teams play the season out in Arizona, however, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is on board.
“Two words that would allow the country and the state of Arizona to know that things were headed back to normal would be, ‘Play ball,’” Ducey said Tuesday, via the Arizona Republic.
That idea would have all 30 teams isolate themselves in the Phoenix area, and then play games at the 10 spring training facilities, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field and select others. Players, coaches and essential staff would then be isolated at local hotels, and only be allowed to move between the hotels and stadiums.
Naturally, there are a lot of potential issues with the plan — the least of which being players would have to agree to be isolated from their families and loved ones for an entire season. And if there is one positive test, the idea is essentially thrown out the window.
While he knows neither the state nor the league are ready to make that decision yet, Ducey said he has talked with Manfred multiple times since the coronavirus outbreak — and he believes his state could handle that plan.
“I have had discussions [Manfred],” Ducey said, via the Arizona Republic. “While I want to hold the content of those discussions in confidence, I just want everyone to know that Arizona, at the right time, is very open-minded to hosting whatever Major League Baseball would like from the state, at the time that it would be appropriate for public health if Arizona were in a position to reopen.
“We have the facilities that are here. We have the hotel space that is here. We want to make sure that the metrics and data are proper before we are able to go forward.”
There were more than 604,500 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States as of Tuesday night, according to The New York Times, and more than 3,800 in Arizona alone.
The other part of that potential plan involves Florida, which already has the spring training infrastructure available — albeit spread out over a much larger area. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has deemed sports as “essential businesses” in the state, too.
Florida had more than 21,000 confirmed cases as of Tuesday night.
Either way, Manfred doesn’t sound like he’s ready to make a move anytime soon.
“MLB has been working diligently to plan for many different contingencies, as one of many ideas that has been discussed has been to play some of our games in Florida when the public health situation allows for it,” the league said in a statement on Tuesday, via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “We are appreciative that the Governor is open to playing games in Florida as one potential solution, but we all agree that such efforts can only be undertaken in a manner that does not endanger public health, nor the health of our players and fans. We will continue to be guided by those principles.”
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