MLB’s postseason is only two weeks away, and commissioner Rob Manfred is hopeful a limited number of fans will be able to attend games.
While speaking in an online event through Hofstra University’s business school, Manfred addressed the possibility of having fans at the league Championship Series and World Series.
“I think it’s important for us to start back down the road. Obviously it’ll be limited numbers, socially distanced, protection provided for the fans in terms of temperature checks and the like. Kind of the pods like you saw in some of the NFL games. We’ll probably use that same theory,” Manfred said, per The Athletic.
“But I do think it’s important as we look forward to 2021 to get back to the idea that live sports, they’re generally outdoors, at least our games. And it’s something that we can get back to.”
Manfred also confirmed that the league is working on holding the postseason in a bubble. He expects the final three rounds, starting with the Division Series, will utilize the bubble atmosphere. It’s been widely reported that National League teams could play in Texas and American League teams in California, while the World Series would be held in Arlington’s Globe Life Field.
The Athletic reports MLB and the MLB Players Association are still working to finalize the details of the bubble plan.
The first round of the 16-team expanded playoff format is expected to be played at the home ballparks of the higher seeds.
Manfred also acknowledged that while some teams play in cities that have allowed a limited number of fans at NFL or college football games, MLB felt it is too late in the regular season to explore that option.
Meanwhile, many MLB teams had to receive special permission from local governments even to play without fans.
“Those permissions were granted to us on the representation that we were not gonna have fans. Now there are a few, very few jurisdictions where those rules have been loosened up to the point that we actually could go ahead with fans. I decided that we were deep enough into the regular season that to try, even in those limited markets … to try to gin it up with a short period of time left in the regular season did not seem to be a good judgment in my view,” Manfred said.
“Again, I hope for the postseason, we’ll have some limited fan presence in ballparks. I think it would be a good thing just in terms of getting people used to the idea being back in the ballpark, and again, I think the trick in terms of what’s going to happen next year, it’s dependent on the virus. The virus controls and it’s ‘do you have a vaccine? Are we still seeing spikes?’ That’s going to drive what local governments are going to allow us to do.”
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