Major League Baseball is discussing a plan to potentially begin its 2020 season as soon as next month with no-fan games that would be played in Arizona, ESPN reports.
Under a plan that has been "embraced" by MLB and leadership of the MLB Players Association, the report says, all 30 teams would play games without fans in the greater Phoenix area, and "players, coaching staffs and other essential personnel would be sequestered at local hotels, where they would live in relative isolation and travel only to and from the stadium."
Health officials, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have reportedly backed the concept, although ESPN notes that there are some "potential stumbling blocks," not the least of which may be getting players on board with spending "perhaps as long as 4 1/2 months" separated from their families in the middle of a global pandemic.
If this plan does go forward, expect a number of other key changes outside of the loss of fans, including the possibility of players "sitting in the empty stands 6 feet apart — the recommended social-distancing space — instead of in a dugout." Plus, ESPN suggests teams could have larger rosters "to account for the possibility of players testing positive despite the isolation."
MLB's Opening Day was originally set for March 26, but like virtually every other major sporting event, it was indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. ESPN notes were this plan to go forward, this would be the first professional sport to make a return, although some reportedly think a June date is still more "realistic."