Major League Baseball confirmed it is considering a scenario in which all 30 teams would play games in Arizona at Chase Field and multiple spring training sites, but noted that it “has not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan.”
In a statement released Tuesday morning, hours after an ESPN report indicated MLB and the MLB Players’ Association discussed a scenario that would virtually quarantine thousands of players, staff and game day personnel in Arizona to expedite the start of the season – as soon as next month, despite tones of caution from public health officials – the league said it has not “sought or received approval” from federal or local authorities.
MLB and the union discussed the single-site option in the two days following a Saturday conference call with President Donald Trump and commissioners from most major North American sports leagues.
“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,” it said in the 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 Association.
“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.”
ESPN reported that the plan could enable MLB to start its season as soon as May, a highly aggressive timeline given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation against gatherings of more than 50 people that extends through May 10. That recommendation would preclude teams from even staging a truncated spring training, which would require at least two to three weeks to get players back into game shape.