Report: MLB is focusing on plan that could see the season start as early as May

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According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the MLB and its players are focusing on a plan, backed by senior federal public health officials in the United States, that could allow the season to start as early as May.

The plan, according to Passan, involves the 30 teams playing games – with no fans present – in the greater Phoenix area. Potential sites include Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, 10 spring training centers, and other fields nearby.

All players, coaching staff and other staff would live in relative isolation from the general population in local hotels, traveling only for matches and return, Passan reported.

However, the plan has several potential concerns that should be addressed before it becomes a reality.

The main concern is the increase in tests available for the new coronavirus which have a fast turnaround time.

Such tests are not widely available at present, but, according to Passan, some are aware of the MLB plan and believe that tests at this scope and scale will be available in early May – and would allow MLB tests not to interfere with the access to tests for the general public.

Earlier Monday, Baxter Holmes of ESPN reported that the NBA and NBPA were also collaborating in the evaluation of rapid response test devices that could, in theory, provide fast, efficient and accurate COVID-19 test results without compromising the testing capacity of the public.

Logistically, executing a plan like this would also be difficult. As Passan notes, the league would require membership from players who would be forced to leave their families indefinitely if the COVID-19 epidemic continues in the United States, preventing teams from playing in their home stadiums. .

Ensuring that players and staff do not contract the new coronavirus, even in a secure environment, and that no MLB-affiliated personnel introduce the virus to an Arizona community would be another obstacle. As of Tuesday evening, 2,456 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Arizona, according to a database maintained by the New York Timesand 65 people died.

Officials do not believe a positive test would necessarily warrant quarantining an entire team or closing the season once again, however, according to Passan, who notes that teams may have considerably expanded lists to hold account for the possibility that players test positive.

This version of the MLB plan also has financial implications – positive and negative. The increase in membership could mean that more players are receiving major league salaries. But not having fans present means that the teams would forgo the sale of tickets, which represent the largest proportion of their annual revenues.

Given these countless concerns, a June opening day could be more realistic, said Passan, but both sides remain focused on finding resolutions in time to save a condensed or shortened MLB season.

The baseball season was scheduled to start on March 26, but spring training was suspended on March 12. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended limiting the events of more than 50 people for eight weeks, MLB said it would not open until mid-May at the earliest.



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