As the calendar continues to slip later into the year and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic remains a widespread issue, the prospect of sports leagues resuming becomes all the more challenging.
And in the case of the Los Angeles Dodgers, playing in front of fans at Dodger Stadium in 2020 may all but be formally ruled out. Major League Baseball reportedly is considering a myriad options, two of which became public and indicated Arizona and Florida were focal points.
On Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom warned that an expectation of mass gatherings — for sporting events or otherwise — taking place in June, July or August, was essentially out of the question barring an unexpected development.
It’s a sentiment L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed during a call with local officials, with his message then disseminated in an email, per Dakota Smith and Ben Walsh of the L.A. Times:
Los Angeles may hold off on allowing big gatherings until 2021 because of the coronavirus threat, according to an internal Los Angeles Fire Department email.
Mayor Eric Garcetti raised the issue during his weekly briefing Monday with a group of high-level staff from several departments, including Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas. Garcetti indicated during the conference call that “large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events may not be approved in the city for at least 1 year,” according to the email.
A member of Garcetti’s office acknowledged the conveying of the Mayor’s remarks were accurate and based on safety measures:
Garcetti spokesman Alex Comisar confirmed the mayor’s comments at the meeting. “The mayor was generally referencing studies of current and historical data and best practices for safely reopening our economy,” Comisar said.
If MLB is pressed into quarantining players in a bubble of sorts, it figures to create not only logistical hurdles but also in gaining approval. Alex Wood is among the Dodgers who would approve of the Arizona plan, but Clayton Kershaw explained he is not in support due to it calling for a separation from his family for upwards of four months.
Of course, if cities at some point are deemed safe enough, MLB theoretically could stage the season in home ballparks, just without fans in attendance. But even that would present challenges as players, coaching staff and trainers from one team alone exceeds the current recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that gatherings of 50 or more people not be held at least until May 10.
Another factor is the 2020 MLB All-Star Game, which remains scheduled at Dodger Stadium. However, it continues to appear increasingly unlikely the exhibition will be played Tuesday, July 14.
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