Major League Baseball appears tentatively set to approve a plan that would call for an 80-game regular season beginning in early July, it has been reported.
The plan, which is subject to change and must be approved by team owners as well as the Major League Baseball Players Association, envisions a season where the schedule is regionalized and the playoffs are expanded to include a total of seven teams in each league.
MLB – like every other major North American professional sports league – has been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But as a greater number of states begin to restart economic activity, sports leagues have also been examining ways to resume play while minimizing exposure to the coronavirus.
A general view of Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, on Friday. Major League Baseball is reportedly considering a plan to play a truncated season without fans this year
A ‘rough outline’ of MLB’s plan includes a regular season ranging anywhere from 78 to 82 games – about half of the traditional 162-game season.
During normal times, teams in each division would play each other while traveling across the United States and Canada.
But The Athletic is reporting that the plan for the truncated season calls for teams to only play those in the same region and division.
So teams in the National League East would only play each other as well as teams in the American League East.
A schedule of 78 games would likely include four three-game series against each divisional opponent and two three-game series against each non-divisional opponent, according to The Athletic.
Teams that are able to play games in their home parks will be allowed to do so, though those clubs who play in states that maintain lockdowns and bar mass gatherings would either relocate to their spring training sites or play ‘home’ games in other teams’ stadiums, according to the plan.
All Major League teams have facilities that they use for spring training spread out across Florida and Arizona.
The plan also calls for an expanded playoff format that would include seven teams from each league as opposed to the traditional five teams.
Under the plan, the team with the best record in each league would receive a first-round bye and automatically qualify for the Division Series.
The other two division winners and the wild card team with the best record would then face the bottom three wild card teams in a best-of-three wild-card round.
If MLB does manage to play this season, it will in all likelihood be without any spectators.
A tentative plan would have to be approved by players and team owners. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (seen above on February 6 in Orlando) is pictured.
Since fans in the stands make up a significant revenue stream, the players will in all likelihood be asked to take a salary reduction for this season only.
In March, the players agreed to prorate their salaries in a shortened season.
Those salaries cover the regular season. The postseason shares that the players receive are based on fan attendance at the ballparks.
With no fans coming to the stadiums this year, the players will be asked to agree to a set percentage of revenue.
In the postseason, they would share in the television advertising dollars generated by playoff games.
The salary issue could prove to be contentious. The players union does not accept the teams’ claims that they would be deep in the red if the players don’t accept reduced salaries without fans at the games.
There are other details to iron out, including roster sizes as well as contingency planning in case a player or team staffers becomes infected with the virus.
NFL releases 2020 schedule with the Chiefs set to host the Texans in September 10 opener – but stadiums could be more than half empty if coronavirus crisis continues
- Kansas City Chiefs will host the Houston Texans in the 2020 NFL season opener, scheduled for September 10
- The League has planned a regular sixteen-game season, but Commissioner Roger Goodell says he is ‘prepared to make adjustments’
- All teams have implemented a full-refund policy for ticket-holders if games are cancelled or fans are prohibited from attending
- The New York Jets have announced they will not sell single-game tickets, and the Miami Dolphins president says Hard Rock Stadium could be 75 percent empty
The NFL has unveiled its 2020 schedule, with the season set to kick off in Kansas City on Thursday, September 10.
Defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs will host the Houston Texans for the opener, which will be played at Arrowhead Stadium.
The NFL has scheduled a regular sixteen-game season, despite the unfolding coronavirus pandemic, with Super Bowl set to take place in Tampa, Florida on February 7, 2021.
However, the League’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, has warned that he is ‘prepared to make adjustments as necessary’ should the COVID-19 pandemic stretch into the later part of the year.
‘The release of the NFL schedule is something our fans eagerly anticipate every year, as they look forward with hope and optimism to the season ahead,’ he stated.
The NFL has unveiled its 2020 schedule, with the season set to kick off in Kansas City on Thursday, September 10. Defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs will host the Houston Texans for the opener, which will be played at Arrowhead Stadium. Pictured left: Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Right: Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes
The League’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, has warned that he is ‘prepared to make adjustments as necessary’ should the COVID-19 pandemic stretch into the later part of the year
‘In preparing to play the season as scheduled, we will continue to make our decisions based on the latest medical and public health advice, in compliance with government regulations, and with appropriate safety protocols to protect the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel, and our communities. ‘
‘We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary, as we have during this offseason in safely and efficiently conducting key activities such as free agency, the virtual draft off-season program, and the 2020 NFL Draft.’
In anticipation of such changes, the NFL has also formulated a ticket refund plan.
A memo sent to all 32 teams by Goodell on Tuesday outlines a baseline for full refunds on any tickets purchased directly from the clubs.
‘If a game is cancelled, or is played under conditions that prohibit fans from attending, anyone purchasing a ticket directly from the club (i.e., season tickets, group sales and/or partial season plans) will have the option of either receiving a full refund or applying the amount paid toward a future ticket purchase directly from the club,’ Goodell wrote.
Fans are seen packed into Hard Rock Stadium for Super Bowl LIV back in February. Scenes such as these are unlikely in this
Ticketmaster and SeatGeek have also pledged to follow the same full-refund policy.
Meanwhile, The New York Times released a report Thursday claiming NFL teams are ‘preparing for games with fewer fans’ due to the coronavirus crisis.
The New York Jets will not not be selling single-game tickets due to the pandemic, claiming it is the most ‘prudent’ thing to do.
Elswhere, Miami Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel says Hard Rock Stadium may only be filled at 25 per cent of its capacity.
‘We would have times to come in for security at different gates so people would be separated out in terms of when they enter the stadium,’ he previously told Good Morning America.
‘We would exit the stadium much like a church environment, where each row exits so people aren’t filing out all at the same time in a herd.’
Crowded stadiums such as this are unlikely to be seen this season. Miami Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel says Hard Rock Stadium may only be filled at 25 per cent of its capacity