Evan Grant of The Dallas News reported on Thursday night that Major League Baseball is seemingly going to allow teams that play in the state of Texas to have fans in the stadium if games resume. The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, announced on Wednesday that teams in his state would allow up to 50% of stadium capacity at sporting events. They are the first state to allow this. Texas is home to the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers.

What this seems to indicate is that Major League Baseball is going to allow this based on what local and state health officials say is a go or a no-go. This could have more than a few ramifications. The first is that for the Rangers and the Astros, they could have big home field advantages if Texas remains the only state to allow fans. We don’t know where things will be in a month (or longer) in the various locales – so it’s pure speculation here – but the advantage of having 20,000 people in the stands at home while no one is in the stands at other ballparks could be big.

Speaking of those 20,000 people in the stands…. talk about an unfair advantage for teams that can have fans versus those who can’t when it comes to revenues. While some of the ticket revenue is shared among teams, much of the other monies isn’t. Teams that play in states that allow fans could have a real edge moving into the offseason, for example, in how much money they may choose to spend because they were able to actually sell a bunch of tickets, hot dogs, beers, parking spaces, etc.

Of course all of this is still subject to the local health officials – even in Texas where it’s allowed. The Rangers and Astros will need to have plans in place, approved by both Major League Baseball and the local health officials on how they will do a lot of things to keep fans and staff safe.

Social distancing will still be required among fans that aren’t coming together. And that brings up another issue, perhaps. When Major League Baseball presented their health plan to the players, one of the things within it was that illustration that showed how players and coaches must be spaced out for social distancing purposes. And within that illustration there were players in the stands/seats behind the dugout. That, of course, can still happen – the teams will just need to block that area off to fans and have extra security to keep people out. But that may be something that needs to be addressed with the players association, too.

20 Responses

  1. CFD3000

    So many issues here, but ultimately I think if baseball is played this year some states / stadiums will have fans before the season is done. 50% full sounds VERY ambitious but there’s some number that works for all the social distancing requirements in the stands, at concessions, rest rooms, parking, entrances, etc. Does that increase risk and expose some people who otherwise wouldn’t be? Almost certainly. But I’ll be surprised if at least several states don’t decide that’s a choice they’ll let their citizens make. I’m betting it does happen, at least for some teams.

  2. ClevelandRedsFan

    If MLB has fans, this dramatically changes the money fight between MLB and MLBPA.

    If you can have 50% capacity, teams no longer lose 40% of revenue per game. Maybe this paves the way for an 82 game season with salary deferrals.

    I’d bet Florida is right behind Texas, and then Arizona, Georgia. New York and California will be last.

    My first thought was that: Maybe the owners will take their revenue sharing proposal they sent players and share revenues amongst themselves. Then I remembered something: money.

    • Doug Gray

      There’s already been talk among the owners to “share revenues” amongst themselves for this season. Not sure if it ever got far in the discussion, but it was out there as a way to try and keep everyone “on the same level”

    • Sliotar

      Could be wrong, but I thought that traditionally … for the post-season… the TV revenues goes to the owners and most of the ticket sales from playoff games goes to the players.

      On paper, the Astros will earmarked as a playoff contender, and the Rangers might, with an improved rotation and a potential spark from a new ballpark. Especially, if there are expanded playoffs.

      Maybe keeping open possibility of more parks opening, and players getting some playoff ticket revenue will help bridge the differences.

      Lot of wasted time over the last couple of weeks, just to confirm that the March agreement is the foundation of getting a season completed.

      • Doug Gray

        So here’s how it breaks down: MLB (the entity/the commissioners office_ gets 15% of paid attendance on every single postseason game.

        Here’s how the remaining 85% of paid attendance revenue is split up, via Fangraphs (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/who-gets-what-from-postseason-ticket-revenue/):

        – Fifty percent of the paid attendance receipts from the Wild Card games is contributed to the Players Pool. (This provision was added in the new CBA.)

        – Sixty percent of the paid attendance receipts from the first three games of the Division Series is contributed to the Players Pool.

        – Sixty percent of the paid attendance receipts from the first four games of the Championship Series and the World Series is contributed to the Players Pool.

        – All paid attendance receipts not paid to the Commissioner’s Office or contributed to the Players Pool is shared equally between the two teams in each Series or Wild Card game.

      • Sliotar

        Thanks, Doug!

        There is something there for the players, but not as lucrative as I was thinking.

  3. Don

    My guess is that most states by mid July will have allow some type of capacity limit for gatherings in attempts to give people something to do.

  4. B-town fan

    Don’t be surprised if Florida is the next state to make a similar announcement.

    • Trey

      Honestly Tampa and Miami could operate without restrictions as neither will ever hit 50% capacity and 25% will be a struggle too

  5. Mark Moore

    Personally, I think that’s an ambitious number when you consider how fans act and interact in a baseball stadium. The jury is still out for me since, at least as I see it, there is still a lot that we don’t know about COVID-19.

    But I have to agree that some fans would be better, and not from the minimal economic impact that has overall. Our guys playing in front of a live audience is always the preferred thing.

    First things first … we have to see a firm plan for some kind of a season agreed to by all parties. That’s still not a done deal yet by any stretch.

  6. RedNat

    I think as fans we have to fight for our rights to attend these games! Otherwise the owners could keep us locked out indefinitely. They would make higher profits if they relied solely on media contracts. No fans equals a significant drop in their overhead.

    We need to make our voices heard!

    • Doug Gray

      Nope. Not if you listen to the owners, who are crying absolute poor because they can’t have fans in the stadiums. TV contracts are 15-20 years, and most teams aren’t even half way through their current ones, so they can’t adjust them to try and get more if “we get locked out”.

  7. Tom Mitsoff

    Anyone who goes to any public gathering is taking a calculated risk, and it’s a risk that everyone is aware of. Everyone’s outlook on the degree of risk and hazard is different. I live in Wisconsin, so it is much more likely that I would see a Reds game this year at Miller Park than GABP. If and when a schedule is released that has the Reds visiting Milwaukee, I’ll weigh a lot of factors, including what sort of distancing policy is in place, whether wearing masks is required or not, and make a decision then.

    • Don

      Tom, I totally agree, there is lots of information available and people have to make their own judgement for their own personal situation, no two are the same.

      Get good knowledge and make informed decisions.

      In New York for golfing there is still only one person per per cart. So if I go golfing with my wife (whom I live with 24 hours a day now with work from home, interact with basically noone else) and play as a twosome, we must take separate carts or the golf club can get in trouble for nor following state guidelines.

      Just wish we would be allowed to make our own decisions again someday.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        It’s a shame that you and your wife can’t sign a waiver for something like that. But everything is in flux and changes are constant, so I have sympathy for people and agencies who are trying to make sure they are following local rules and guidelines.

      • Don

        I can understand the goal of the rule and the golf course would be fine with us sharing a cart but there is a hotline and websites to report businesses whom violate the rules. My wife and I would not get in trouble but the golf course could be fined and be told they have to close for some time.

        We do what we have to do that the businesses we frequent can stay open in the long run.

        Oh well,

        Hopefully real life baseball starts in the not to distant future.

  8. Bred

    Of course Texas will fill the stadiums. I live in Texas, and it is full steam ahead. Texas is wide open despite 7000 new cases in the last 5 days. The stadiums are both domed now. I wonder if that poses the environmental super spreader risk for players and fans. As Tom said calculated risk seems higher in that situation than an open air park.

    • Old-school

      What does 7000 new cases in 5 days in Texas mean in June with logarithmically more testing capacity than in March and April?