Major League Baseball, like most sports leagues around the world, is on indefinite hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week the 30 owners approved a plan that would begin the 2020 season in July. Teams would play an 82-game regular season with a 14-team expanded postseason field. MLB and the MLBPA are now negotiating the restart plan and details.
Baseball is a $10 billion per year industry and already 30 or so percent of regular season games have been missed. There's no gate revenue coming in (ticket sales, merchandise, etc.) and there may not be any this year if games are played without fans. There's also no television revenue because there are no games to broadcast. The financial losses are already enormous and growing.
"The economic effects are devastating, frankly, for the clubs," commissioner Rob Manfred said last week. "We're a big business, but we're a seasonal business. Unfortunately this crisis began at kind of the low point for us in terms of revenue (because) we hadn't quite started playing our season yet. If we don't play a season the losses for the owners could approach $4 billion."
The financial recovery will be a multiyear effort for both the average American and billion-dollar baseball franchises. Player salaries will be slashed as teams get their payrolls in order -- free agency could be ugly this winter -- and, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the MLBPA has already agreed not to challenge MLB's debt-service rule. That allows teams to borrow money to avoid financial ruin.