This Could Be Significant: MLB Reportedly Will Allow Texas Teams to Have Fans at Games

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This Could Be Significant: MLB Reportedly Will Allow Texas Teams to Have Fans at Games

Chicago Cubs

This is something we touched on a week ago when Texas made its announcement about permitting fans at sporting events, but it was an open question whether the state’s decision would actually matter. If MLB didn’t sign off on fans attending games, then it wasn’t going to matter what the state did or did not permit.

Well, that step one is actually going to happen:

Texas recently announced that teams would be permitted to allow up to 50% capacity at games, which would be massive for the Rangers and Astros if MLB will indeed permit them to allow fans.

But so many huge questions follow that we asked when this topic first came up:

1.) Would the teams actually proceed to being the first to have fans in attendance, knowing the possible risks and blowback? Would MLB permit it?

2.) Are fans even clamoring to go to stadiums right now? Does limited capacity make it less enticing?

3.) If fans can start coming back to some stadiums, how does that impact the current MLB/player negotiations that are explicitly about the idea that revenues will be hammered thanks to no fans at games?

4.) Will the weather permit the teams to actually have their retractable roofs open for all the games, or will it be too hot/gross? And if the roof is closed for weather, do you simply have to tell all the fans with tickets that the game – for their purposes – is cancelled?

5.) Will other states/teams wait to see how this plays out in Texas and then follow suit? Most of the talk has been about a hope that you could do very limited capacity at games in maybe September or October, certainly not July.

I stand by those questions even now, but let’s talk about the biggest one in the current climate: if some teams are permitted to have fans, doesn’t that completely change the owners’ calculus on finances this season? Everything about the current fight was raised precisely because the owners claim everything changed after the March agreement once it became clear that fans wouldn’t be attending games.

But if even some teams are going to be permitted to have some fans, then that must be accounted for in the negotiations. Specifically, it makes the owners’ push to cut salary beyond prorated pay less reasonable, and it makes that an acceptable approach only where players are going to get a cut of gate-related revenues. Remember, all teams are hoping that SOME fans can come to their games LATE in the year, and if Texas is already allowing it, you can bet several more states are going to permit it by July.

It seems to me, there might be some reasonable solution here (lol @ the sides finding a reasonable solution): the players get something slightly less than prorated pay, but then all gate-related receipts for the whole league are pooled at the end of the year, shared among the teams *AND* the players.

(All of this, of course, is subject to the pandemic, and whether safe attendance is really possible. We tend to think limited capacity in open-air stadiums is among the safer public activities so long as you avoid chokepoints that have people near each other for long periods of time. But, to be honest, I’m not sure we really yet KNOW that for certain. Unfortunately, the recent protests and demonstrations around the country might wind up providing us a data point about how transmissible the virus is in large, outdoor gatherings.)



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.