Coronavirus: MLB, MLBPA discuss starting 2020 season with all games in Arizona, per report

It’s not certain when the 2020 MLB season will get underway because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Although it remains possible that no 2020 season will be played, the hope remains that some kind of abbreviated campaign will be possible once we’re past the peak of the virus in the U.S. and Canada. 

It’s a fluid situation, and as such MLB and the players’ union (MLBPA) are remaining fluid in their discussions. According to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press, one idea that emerged in recent discussions is to play all games in Arizona — the Phoenix area in particular — at least for the start of the season. Blum writes: “Ideas are still in the early stage, and the Arizona option would have many obstacles to overcome,” the people familiar with the discussions said.

In addition to having a number of major league spring training facilities in the area, Phoenix also has Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. So there’s an abundance of usable facilities, all mostly within close proximity to each other. Several teams also have spring training in Florida, but the complexes are far more spread out than they are in Arizona. 

Among states, Arizona at this writing has the 22nd most confirmed cases of COVID-19, which means it’s not presently a “hot spot.” That status could of course change, but if it remains on the lower side of the spectrum then this idea could become more viable.

Although MLB and the MLBA, per their agreement, have a stated preference for playing games in front of fans and only after public health officials have approved such gatherings, those preconditions might not allow a season of any length to happen. That’s why both sides have also agreed that playing games at neutral sites in front of no fans is a possibility. Players and owners obviously have heavy financial incentives to play as much of a season as possible, which explains the openness to unconventional arrangements. Playing every team’s games in Arizona, at least for a certain part of the schedule, certainly qualifies as unconventional. 

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