The MLB was forced to delay the start of their season, which was set for March 26, due to the global health crisis.
But the league is now seriously considering a proposal to begin the season in May at several stadiums in the Arizona area, according to a report by ESPN.
According to sources quoted by the US sports outlet, the idea has the support of federal health officials, who say that all 30 teams could operate with minimal risk, despite the ongoing pandemic which has claimed more than 12,000 lives in the United States alone in recent weeks.
The suggestion is that teams play games at various empty arenas in Phoenix which are used by several MLB teams for Spring training, as well as at Chase Field – the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Players, coaches and officials from all teams would be sequestered in accommodation in the area and would travel only to games from their hotels and live in virtual isolation.
“I think there would be an adjustment but we would follow suit,” retired star Alex Rodriguez said to ESPN.
“Players want to play and fans want to watch.”
The MLB season totals 162 games per team and it is not yet known how long players from each team would be required to live in the Arizona area.
“It’s a completely different experience,” said Rodriguez, as he tried to predict what it might be like to play in an empty stadium.
“Communication as an infielder would be a lot better. I think it would be fine for television but on the field it would be like a spring training game.”
Reports state that games would be reduced to just seven innings, with tie-breakers held to ensure that games didn’t stretch past an allotted time.
Games held in empty arenas would mean that teams wouldn’t get the lucrative gate receipts many clubs count on, but television revenue would be increased and allow players to paid as normal.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health have reportedly signed off on the idea, so long as strict measures of social distancing and isolation are implemented, however opponents of the idea have suggested that June may be a more appropriate time for the consideration.
The idea will likely draw criticism from some quarters, particularly when the health of some of the leagues older coaches and officials is concerned.
There are also significant questions as to how long players would be required to live in isolation, and whether or not their families would be allowed to join them.