Baseball could be returning very soon. According to ESPN, the MLB is planning to start the season as early as May amid the coronavirus pandemic. Sources told ESPN a high-ranking federal public official believes the MLB can safely operate under the current conditions. The plan has its share of challenges, but it has been embraced by MLB and MLB Players Association leadership.
The plan would be all 30 teams to play games at stadiums with no fans in Arizona. Some of the games would be played in the general Phoenix area while some would be played at Chase Field, which is the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Other games would be played at 10 spring training facilities and other nearby fields. Players, coaching staff, and other personnel would be isolated in hotels, and they would travel only to and from the stadium. Federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Institutes of Health have been supportive of the plan. If it goes through, it would be the first professional sport to return since the pandemic began last month.
"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 MLB statement said on Tuesday. "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."0comments
The statement continued: "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."
While the plan is getting support from officials, there have been some officials who believe returning in June is more realistic. At that, there would be more testing for coronavirus with a quick turnaround. When the MLB announced it was dealing the season, all teams were in the middle of spring training games. The regular season was originally set to start during the final week of March.