Coronavirus update: MLB looking at alternative sites for games in cities less affected by crisis, reports say

Major League Baseball is moving toward formulating alternative plans for regular season games in the event that the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak makes it impractical to proceed with the schedule as planned. MLB is looking into different sites for games once the 2020 regular season gets underway in late March, Jarred Diamond of the Wall Street Journal reports. Diamond writes: 

This could take on several forms, these people said. Teams could play at other MLB stadiums in cities less affected by the crisis, when its primary tenant is on the road. They could stay at their spring training facilities in Arizona or Florida and stage regular-season contests there, since those places are experienced at hosting major-league games. Baseball has even received outreach from outside parties with facilities large enough to host MLB teams if they can’t play at home.

In the event that large public gatherings are banned by local authorities, Diamond notes that MLB would proceed with the schedule in normal fashion only if they unable to make these alternative arrangements. Proceeding as normal under those circumstances would mean playing games in front of empty seats, which in addition to the awkward optics would also eliminate any gate revenues for teams. Importantly, Diamond also reports that MLB is not presently considering canceling regular season games. 

In the case of the Mariners, whose hometown of Seattle has been one of the U.S. hot spots for coronavirus, the club has looked into playing regular season games at its spring training facilities in Arizona, Evan Drellich of The Athletic reports. 

MLB has joined the NBA and NHL in limiting media access as a way to contain the spread of the virus. Prior to that, MLB advised players to refrain from signing autographs for fans and shaking hands. Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan’s highest professional league, has been playing spring games in empty ballparks and has delayed the start of its regular season.

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as a cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization. The virus can cause symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But while some patients only show mild symptoms and recover, others have developed life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia, CBS News reports. 

CBS News has the latest updates about the virus, which has affected various sports globally and in the United States and has at present caused more than 4,000 fatalities worldwide. Here at CBS Sports we have a running updates on how sports leagues are responding to coronavirus. 

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