Milwaukee Brewers Principal Owner Mark Attanasio says he still thinks major league baseball will play a half-season, starting in July. But he says no fans would be at games due to worries about COVID-19.
Attanasio and other Brewers executives made it clear to the Greater Milwaukee Committee Tuesday that there are significant challenges to meet before there can be a mid-summer opening day.
Later Tuesday, baseball players later indicated the size of some disagreements.
One dispute involves baseball economics. Attanasio says normally, major league revenues are nearing $10 billion per year, with 40% coming from fans through tickets, concessions and parking. But he says annual player salaries cost about $5 billion, and it costs nearly that much to stage the games and operate the franchises.
"The sport is run, as most sports are, more as an enterprise that you create asset value over time. But in a given year, you don't really make money. You look to break even,” Attanasio said.
Attanasio says this year, playing half the games and with no fans would cut revenue about 70%, while he says player salaries would only go down 50%. There'd be some savings on the staging of games. But Attanasio says the owners and players need to cut a deal.
"We're hoping to work collaboratively with the players association to come up with a solution for that. Somewhat of a forward-looking solution because we've got to do that quickly in order to put the apparatus in place to get back on the field by early July,” Attanasio said.
Tuesday afternoon, the owners asked for additional player salary cuts, with the highest-paid players seeing the biggest reduction.
Yahoo! Sports reported that the players union responded by saying the proposed additional pay cuts are massive and the union is extremely disappointed.
The players also say the sides are far apart on health and safety protocols. David Stearns, Brewers general manager and president of baseball operations, says a recently released 68-page document lays out a health proposal.
"There are a couple different aspects of that. The first is an extraordinarily robust testing apparatus. Everyone associated with major league players — not just major league players but also those associated with them —gets tested multiple times per week. At least multiple times. Many people will be tested almost daily,” Stearns said.
Stearns also says there'd have to be physical distancing and good hygiene practices in clubhouses, and dugouts. He says even Brewers Manager Craig Counsell would be affected.
"Craig now has an assigned seat in the dugout. I don't know if Craig's going to love that, but we have social distancing protocols,” Stearns said, smiling.
Counsell told the Greater Milwaukee Committee that he's been trying to stay in touch with the players to make sure they're doing individual workouts. There'd be about three weeks of team practices before the shortened season. Attanasio says he hopes the group workouts would take place at Miller Park.
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