Cactus League Proposes Delaying Arizona Spring Training

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Arizona’s Cactus League is asking Major League Baseball to consider postponing next month’s start of spring training, with that state and fellow preseason site Florida both reeling from the surge of Covid-19 cases.

“We believe it is wise to delay the start of spring training to allow for the Covid-19 situation to improve here,” the Cactus League’s executive director and nine local leaders said in a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Last year, MLB and the players association agreed to a shortened, 60-game season after the virus halted spring training in its tracks. Delaying the 2021 season would require the two sides to once again come to an agreement, which may be a tall task given the history of player and ownership negotiations.

The Major League Baseball Players Association confirmed in a statement that it hasn’t been in communication with MLB about a possible delay.

The Cactus League is home to 15 teams, including the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.

Arizona has the most cases in the country per 100,000 people over the last seven days, according to the CDC. Florida recently saw its daily Covid-19 death toll tie a record last hit in August.

“As we have previously said publicly, we will continue to consult with public health authorities, medical experts, and the Players Association whether any schedule modifications to the announced start of spring training and the championship season should be made in light of the current Covid-19 environment to ensure the safety of the players, coaches, umpires, MLB employees and other game-day personnel in a sport that plays every day,” Major League Baseball said in a statement.

KPNX-TV, an NBC affiliate in Arizona, earlier reported on the letter from the Cactus League.

Other professional leagues have pushed forward in Arizona and Florida. The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League are still playing games in both states. Tampa, Florida, is set to host the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, between the hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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