The Arizona Plan would have all 30 MLB teams playing under quarantine in central Arizona, using the Spring Training facilities there. The Split Plan would have teams split between spring facilities in Arizona and Florida, with the AL/NL thrown out the window in favor of the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.
These are just ideas for how an MLB season could take place this year, given that a “normal” season is going to be impossible.
And now there’s a third idea: the Hub Plan.
MLB discussing three-state plan with one hub in Texas as possible solution to start 2020 season https://t.co/5bYueINUGg
— CBS Sports MLB (@CBSSportsMLB) April 21, 2020
The Hub Plan is more or less an expansion of the Split Plan, but instead of two locations for games (central Arizona and some area of Florida), you’d have three (or more). Per the CBS report, the third location being considered is Arlington, Texas – home of the Rangers, and in between Dallas and Fort Worth. How the teams would play each other, how it would impact the set up of the leagues, and how you’d work out a schedule are not discussed. In theory, you could have teams moving from hub to hub after a few weeks in each location, allowing for teams to play a diverse schedule. Of course, with normality thrown out the window, maybe you’d just have three leagues, and figure out the playoffs somehow from there.
A variation of this idea (more hubs) actually trickled out at The Athletic about a week ago, though it was labeled pure speculation within the game at the time.
This CBS report sounds like quite a bit more than that:
“On Monday, multiple league sources informed CBS Sports about a different idea that has been discussed in recent days. In this arrangement, the league would have teams stationed in one of three hubs: Florida, Arizona or Texas. The clubs would then make use of the local major- and minor-league (or spring training) facilities.
One source even expressed guarded optimism about the idea’s chances of coming to fruition.”
One advantage of this approach is that you have domed and/or roofed big league stadiums available in each of the areas, so you could theoretically limit the impact of weather issues by playing multiple games every day at those facilities. I suppose you are also slightly spreading out the risk of an outbreak that touches the entire league, though I’m not so sure it would matter where the teams were geographically located if one team was struck by a sickness. Then again, maybe having games in three different hubs makes safely accommodating families – a major concern of the players – a little easier?
A drawback, like with the Split Plan, is that if the national situation changes mid-season, you can’t just go back to the regular schedule, at home, because you’ve launched a season that necessarily requires a totally different structure. I would expect MLB and the players to wait as long as possible before committing to this kind of idea.
I’m just thinking out loud at the moment, because – like all of these ideas – this is pretty wild.
Meanwhile, even if a hub approach could work out logistically, there is still the very serious issue of playing games without fans, and the revenue implications. As I wrote earlier today, it’s an ugly conversation that doesn’t look great for the prospect of fan-less games.