NFL, MLB looking at schedules as pandemic continues

Sports

Ushers leave empty Hammond Stadium, after a baseball game between the Minnesota Twins and the Baltimore Orioles was canceled, Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Fort Myers, Fla. Major League Baseball has suspended the rest of its spring training game schedule because if the coronavirus outbreak. MLB is also delaying the start of its regular season by at least two weeks. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The NCAA men’s basketball national championship game was scheduled to be played Monday night but that, along with all other sporting events, have been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Major League Baseball and the National Football League have some new ideas on how to approach their seasons and get them started as they are still slated to go on.

The NFL is planning to go virtual for the 2020 Draft, which was originally scheduled to be held in Las Vegas from April 23 to 25.

Due to stay at home orders in several NFL cities, teams and players will have to do all of their communication over the phone and computer. You won’t see the usual photo opportunities of first-round draft picks getting their new team’s hats and jerseys, nor will they be shaking hands with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

At Gillette Stadium and other team facilities, there will be no in-person draft rooms as teams have already been meeting virtually with prospective players.

An NFL memo reads in part, “We are operating in an environment unlike anything we have experienced before,” and, “that as we work through those challenges we should not lose sight of the magnitude of this global health crisis, of the extraordinary work of first responders, healthcare workers, and so many others, of the growing number of Americans in need of assistance, and of those who have lost family or friends to this virus.”

For the MLB, Opening Day was set for March 26, but was put on pause.

The Associated Press reports the players’ association and the MLB discussed putting all 30 teams in the Phoenix area this season and playing in empty ballparks.

Ideas are still in the early stage, and the Arizona option would have many obstacles to overcome, both sides said.

Half of the MLB clubs hold spring training in Arizona, the other in Florida. Arizona’s advantage is all training parks are within 50 miles of each other while Florida’s are spread out by around 220 miles.

MLB and the union reached a deal on March 26 to advance $170 million in salary to the players for the first 60 days of the season. Part of the deal is that they would only get bonus portions of their salaries if the regular season is cut from their usual 162 games and would receive no additional money if the season is scrapped in its entirety.

Both the league and the players agreed to play as full of a season as possible. This plan would enable the season to start while waiting for health and government officials to determine whether it is safe to resume regular play with all of the travel it entails.

With Opening Day being pushed back, spring training was halted on March 12 and now the league is saying they will not open until the middle of May at the earliest.

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