It doesn’t appear many (if any) fans will be permitted to attend Major League Baseball games this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are at least a couple of teams that could have somewhat of a home-field edge. Two major league sources told Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News on Thursday that the league may leave it up to local and municipal governance on whether to allow fans in the stands. That would be a plus for the Rangers and Astros, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced this week that teams in the state will now be able to fill their stadiums to 50 percent capacity.
This must be welcome news for the Texas-based clubs’ ownership groups – after all, MLB has claimed it could lose $4 billion if there aren’t fans in the seats this year. The Rangers, for their part, are still waiting to play their first game in the brand-new Globe Life Field. The Astros, after an offseason of turmoil caused by a sign-stealing scandal, would surely be happy to receive some in-person support from their fan base.
Of course, despite this news, it remains very much up in the air whether there will be baseball in Texas or anywhere else this season. The league and the union still haven’t come to a deal that would clear the way for baseball in 2020. There may also be health and safety protocols standing in the way, as Grant writes that Texas’ optimistic plans could change based on those matters. Notably, we’ve seen the coronavirus rear its head in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball this week. It’s unclear how MLB would proceed with players or fans should the illness affect one of its own teams, even if that club’s local government is open to letting spectators into the stadium.