We don’t yet know if or when the MLB schedule will begin this year, but if it happens before June 30, the Blue Jays are going to have a tough time hosting home games.
Even though we’re only at the very beginning of April (man, March took forever), there are already plenty of challenges ahead of the MLB office for later in the year.
To that point, on Tuesday the city of Toronto announced that there would be no public events until at least June 30th. While the city obviously doesn’t have a direct say in what happens in MLB operations, they do have the right to shut down public events in Toronto, which could have an effect on the Blue Jays if baseball somehow gets back underway before then. That said, at this point they have not placed a ban on sporting events, although that could change later on as things develop with the Coronavirus pandemic. However, even if they haven’t yet banned sporting events, it certainly wouldn’t be good from an optics perspective for the city if they allowed it to happen when that time comes, at least as things stand right now.
Hypothetically, if baseball can resume before that date, then there are a few possible solutions. The MLB office is already going to have to be very creative with their scheduling for this season, so perhaps they could consider restrictions that may be in place for various markets, which could eventually include Toronto, and one that will likely happen for other cities and organizations as well. However, there’s a good chance this could be a fairly widespread issue to navigate for MLB teams, and a quickly changing situation, so it’s hard to say if they can legitimately make that a consideration or not.
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Another option would be one that’s been floated for several professional sports league, and that’s to play without fans. I’m not sure if that would be an option for the Blue Jays in this instance, but it might be something worth exploring for a short term solution in Toronto. I also can’t speak for the city office, but I can’t help but wonder if a sporting event without fans would be the preferred solution for them as well.
That “solution” would also come with its own complications though. If there were no fans at the game, that’s a significant missed opportunity for revenue, and not something that Rogers Communications is going to want to sign up for. We’re all going to have be more flexible in the coming months, and that includes big corporations like Rogers, but there’s no denying the impact of money on baseball. We already saw an agreement put into place to reduce the MLB draft this year, and that was mostly done in the interest of saving money for ownership groups. Unless there is no other choice, they’re not going to want to play games in empty stadiums.
For now there’s likely no sense in getting too worried about it, at least not until we know more about when Major League Baseball may be able to resume. There would be other issues to navigate as well, such as crossing international borders while they’re shut down, and many other complications. Sadly, the way the Coronavirus numbers are climbing in the United States right now, it’s hard to imagine a regular season schedule resuming before June 30th anyway.