NEW YORK (AP) – Fans return to major league stadiums for opening games Thursday amid pandemic attendance restrictions in most venues, and baseball commissioner Rob Manfred can imagine stadiums half full. season. Capacity will be limited to approximately 12% at the start of the season in Boston and Washington. Twelve teams are at 20%, Colorado at 43% and Houston at 50%. The only tallest team is Texas, at 100%.
“I hope that by mid-summer we will have unrestricted stadiums and have full access for the fans,” Manfred said Wednesday during an interview with the Associated Press. Last year’s shortened regular season was played completely without fans, who were allowed to return only for the National League Championship Series and the World Series, and then, in limited numbers for games, moved to a neutral site in Arlington, Texas. “For most clubs, this will be another year of significant losses. It won’t be the $ 2.5 to $ 3 billion we had last year, but there will be significant losses if we continue in the way where we don’t have full fans, ”Manfred said. “The clubs have done a great job working with the financial institutions that they had relationships with in terms of ensuring liquidity.” Manfred believes that most players could get vaccinated against COVID-19 in mid-May. The St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros said Monday that their players will be offered vaccinations before Game 1, and the San Francisco Giants said some of their players had already received vaccinations. “I’m glad I got here,” Manfred said. “I think the players and the people at the club did a great job during spring training, a continuation of what they did last year. And I just hope we can play a season that seems normal. ” He thinks the fans are yearning to get back to the stadiums. “I see this season as a great opportunity for baseball,” he said. “We are an outdoor sport. I think it is safe or safer to go to outdoor activities. Everyone seems to agree on that. And I think there is a pent-up demand for entertainment products, and we will do our best to seize the best opportunity to take advantage of that. “MLB proposed in January to delay the start of the season until April 28 and cut each team’s schedule from 162 games to 154, but with full pay. The players association declined the offer. “I think playing to the fullest during the normal time frame, giving us as much flexibility as possible in the schedule in case of setbacks, related to the weather. or others, it’s beneficial in the context of last year’s experience, “union director Tony Clark said in a separate interview with the AP. MLB’s plan would have included the designated hitter in the National League for the second year in a row and would have expanded the playoffs from 10 teams to 14 after allowing 16 to make it after last year’s shortened 60-game season. “My only disappointment is that I think our investment igation suggests that our fans like the expanded format. And obviously our goal is to deliver the product that our fans want to see, ”said Manfred. Manfred and Clark have begun discussing the possibility of moving the All-Star Game to Atlanta this July due to concerns about legislation adopted in Georgia that restricts voting rights. “I wanted to have a conversation. I fully understand why Tony would want to have a conversation on this topic. We have actually had a preliminary kind of conversation, and there will be more substantive conversations about that, ”Manfred said. “I’m talking to various constituencies within the game and I’m just not going beyond that in terms of what I would or would not consider.” Manfred expects a series of announcements this summer on the All-Star sites for 2023-25. Los Angeles will host in 2022 after the pandemic caused the cancellation of last year’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium. Negotiations are likely to begin this spring on a labor agreement to replace the one that expires on December 1. The designated hitter and extended playoffs are likely to be issues along with the union’s concerns about the alleged collapse from rebuilding teams and the manipulation of service time that may delay eligibility for refereeing and free agency. The teams keep the time of the calls is their only prerogative. An umpire denied the union’s complaint on behalf of Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, ruling that there was no evidence of tampering in his case, without deciding the overall issue. “Players believe that establishing a more competitive environment will drive growth in the industry and that growth in the industry will benefit everyone (fans, player owners) believe that having clubs incentivized to compete and succeed rather than rewarding them for losing repeatedly it’s beneficial to the industry, ”Clark said. “We believe in making adjustments to the system so that the younger players who are producing and increasing the value of their clubs receive fairer compensation for it. And we believe that many of the adjustments associated with those moving parts will help restore meaningful free agent markets for seasoned players and veterans. “The use of in-game video has been restored this season, on teams’ iPads with the signals of the game. receiver not visible. It was banned last year as a result of the Houston Astros signal theft scandal, with the clubhouse televisions turned off to discourage gatherings during the pandemic. “Clubs could live with or without video in the I play as long as it’s a level playing field, “Manfred said.” Our effort and expense to restore the game video was really to deliver something that a segment of the player population thought was important to them. ”