MLB also has looked at configurations for all-Arizona, Arizona-and-Florida and Arizona-plus-Texas-plus Florida, the people said. The latest plan was first reported by USA Today.
MLB also has looked into starting the season in Arizona, Texas and Florida, playing in empty ballparks. Teams could switch later to their regular-season stadiums if the health situation allows. And if conditions improve later in the year, they possibly could start playing before fans with only a percentage of seats sold.
Opening day had been scheduled for March 26, but the new coronavirus caused MLB to delay the start to mid-May at the earliest.
Any plan would be subject to medical approval plus consent of federal, state and local authorities. Any schedule with games at neutral sites or without fans would require an agreement between MLB and the players’ association.
Baseball also is considering expanding the playoffs beyond the current 10-team format. Officials have discussed extending the playoffs into November or possibly even December, using domed ballparks and warm-weather cities.
Any plan would be contingent on baseball gaining access to test about 3,000 people on a regular basis: about 1,200 players plus staff and broadcast personnel. Players most likely would need three to four weeks of workouts before opening day.
Baseball officials have been encouraged by statements from President Donald Trump, Govs. Greg Abbott (Texas), Andrew Cuomo (New York) and Tom Wolf (Pennsylvania) and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, one of the people said.