As sports leagues try to find a pathway forward to resume their operations about the novel coronavirus pandemic, options that once would have seen absurd are now being legitimately discussed.
According to Ron Blum of the Associated Press, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association discussed the idea of having all 30 teams begin play in Arizona as part of a modified season scheduled during a Monday call between the two sides.
The Phoenix area is home to spring training for 15 different teams with 10 spring training sites along with Chase Field, the home field for the Arizona Diamondbacks during the regular season. All 11 stadiums are located within approximately 50 miles of each other with Hohokam Park in Mesa and Surprise Stadium in Surprise being the two stadium separated by the greatest distance. The season would begin without fans in the stands under such a concept.
But the idea appears to be just that for the time being. The logistics of getting 30 MLB teams to the same metropolitan area, finding accommodations for the entire operation of each team and scheduling out 15 games a day in a locale with just 11 potentially viable stadiums all present significant challenges to overcome. Chase Field itself with a retractable roof could host at least two games a day, in theory. However, the other 10 parks are all fully outdoor and could prove challenging if games were to continue into the Arizona summer where temperatures can easily soar over 100 degrees.
“We’d all love to find a way to play, provided we could do safely, and that would be the priority,” Texas Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said.
There is a real possibility the prevalence of the virus could impede any practical execution of the idea. The MLBPA would eventually need to decide if they’d be OK with the possible risks associated with beginning in such a way as well. Baseball’s season was supposed to start March 26 and will not begin until at least the second half of May as it is.
The NFL may have even more challenges to overcome should they attempt to begin their seasons this fall in a similar fashion. The very nature of the sport requires close contact to begin with and there isn’t an obvious satellite site for the entire league to descend upon to begin their seasons.
But it’s clear the NFL is going to continue to push forward as though the season will begin on schedule for as long as possible.