MLB commissioner Rob Manfred hopes to have ‘limited fan capacity’ in playoffs

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Major League Baseball is preparing to kick off its postseason later this month in select bubble cities across the country.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said on Monday night that when that happens, he’s hopeful that at least some fans will be allowed to attend the games.

Manfred, who spoke at a virtual event through the Hofstra business school, is working to have “limited fan capacity” for the League Championship Series and World Series.

“I think it’s important for us to start back down the road,” Manfred said, via The Athletic. “Obviously, it’ll be limited numbers, socially distanced, protection provided for the fans in terms of temperature checks and the like. Kind of the pods like you saw in some of the NFL games. We’ll probably use that same theory. But I do think it’s important as we look forward to 2021 to get back to the idea that live sports, they’re generally outdoors, at least our games. And it’s something that we can get back to.”

MLB working for 4 bubbles

Manfred didn’t provide details on Monday, though he did confirm that the league is working to hold the postseason in a bubble.

The league is reportedly eyeing four stadiums — Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, Petco Park in San Diego, Minute Maid Park in Houston and Globe Life Field in Arlington — to hold the postseason. Globe Life Field will host the entire NLCS and World Series.

The newly added first round will be played at the home ballpark of the higher seed, per the report.

Details surrounding that plan, according to The Athletic, are still being worked out between MLB and the players association.

Though the NFL and some college stadiums across the country have started letting a limited number of fans attend games, Manfred said he thought it was simply too late to try and get that done in each city across the league.

After all, many teams are already playing games under special exemptions from local governments.

“Those permissions were granted to us on the representation that we were not gonna have fans,” Manfred said, via The Athletic. “Now there are a few, very few jurisdictions where those rules have been loosened up to the point that we actually could go ahead with fans. I decided that we were deep enough into the regular season that to try, even in those limited markets … to try to gin it up with a short period of time left in the regular season did not seem to be a good judgment in my view.

“Again, I hope for the postseason, we’ll have some limited fan presence in ballparks. I think it would be a good thing just in terms of getting people used to the idea being back in the ballpark, and again, I think the trick in terms of what’s going to happen next year, it’s dependent on the virus. The virus controls and it’s, ‘Do you have a vaccine? Are we still seeing spikes?’ That’s going to drive what local governments are going to allow us to do.”

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is “hopeful” that fans can attend the ALCS, NLCS and World Series this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

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