Report: MLB, MLBPA focused on plan to return with all games in Arizona
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The 2020 season could be played inside empty stadiums in Arizona if Major League Baseball returns this year.
MLB and the MLB Players Association are increasingly focused on developing an arrangement that could allow them to start the season as early as May, though some officials believe June is more likely, sources told Jeff Passan of ESPN.
The idea would have all 30 teams play in the greater Phoenix area. Half of MLB's teams already host spring games in Arizona. Additionally, the Diamondbacks' home stadium, Chase Field, is located in downtown Phoenix, meaning a number of major-league ready facilities are available.
Arizona would be a more ideal option than Florida - where the other half of teams host spring training - because ballparks in Arizona are in closer proximity to each other than those in Florida.
The league issued a statement Tuesday confirming they have engaged in cursory discussions about potentially pursuing a fixed location for a season, but nothing official or in-depth has been put into motion.
"MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so," the statement reads. "While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as a potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan."
There are a number of logistical issues that would need to be cleared despite sources telling Passan that public health officials believe the league could safely operate under certain guidelines. Players and staff would need to be isolated away from their families and only allowed to travel from the stadium to their hotels.
However, sources told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that the possibility of families traveling with and staying alongside the players in hotel rooms is also being discussed.
Player agent Scott Boras recently proposed a "functional isolation" plan for the season, similar to what is being discussed.
"It allows for immediacy of a schedule, where you might be able to begin it and televise it, provide Major League Baseball to America," Boras said, according to The Associated Press. "I think players are willing to do what's necessary because I think they understand the importance of baseball for their own livelihoods and for the interest of our country and providing a necessary product that gives all the people that are isolated enjoyment."
It was reported Saturday that MLB, which has postponed its season indefinitely, was already considering playing games in centralized locations without fans present.