The ongoing COVID-19 or coronavirus epidemic has disrupted lives across the glove, but doesn’t yet seem to be seriously impacting the Chicago Cubs.
Even if you live under a rock, by now, you’re probably aware of the coronavirus, which has, at this point, impacted over 118,000 people globally, killing more than 4,000, according to the latest report from the World Health Organization.
So far, Major League Baseball and the Chicago Cubs have remained relatively unscathed – although the league is already looking at contingency plans ahead of the regular season opening on March 26. Across the globe, including here in the United States, events and gatherings have already been canceled, delayed or postponed.
In fact, all sporting events in Italy (Serie A included) have been put off until early April while Asian World Cup qualifying matches in March and June were postponed as well. Fans were told to stay home as their favorite teams took the pitch in an empty stadium.
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This isn’t just a sporting event issue either. In fact, the popular video game convention, E3, was canceled early Wednesday morning. Locally, Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parade (originally set for this weekend) was also moved to a later date via WGN.
Now, according to the New York Times, major sports leagues across the nation have made the decision to close off clubhouse locker rooms to even reporters.
However, while the NHL and NBA have discussed keeping fans from stadiums, MLB has no current plans to do so; not yet, at least. If that were the case, every game would look as if the Baltimore Orioles or Chicago White Sox were the home teams. I’m sure that one will get over well with die-hard South Siders who may come across this post.
At the end of the day, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is aware of the risks presented by the coronavirus, but insists he’s going to continue enjoying his day-to-day in the meantime.
“You can’t live scared. Just [going to] continue to wash my hands more, take precautions but [I’m] still going to live my life.”
Both men are also well aware of the impact of playing games without fans could have – both on the sport itself and those fans’ lives.
“I would definitely fight against it. Just because we play for the fans. We’re employed because of the fans and everything they bring for us and the energy.”
As of right now, the league is expected to start as scheduled without any delays. Great news for baseball fans who have been itching for regular season action since camps opened.
In 2008, the Cubs shattered an all-time regular-season attendance record with 3,300,200 (previous being 2,252,462 in 2008) and brought still brought in 3,094,865 (38,208 average) last year despite a third-place finish.
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So, it’s safe to say that if fans were kept at home, ticket sales would obviously take a hit meaning millions of dollars lost for not only the Chicago Cubs but the rest of the league in general. Stay tuned – I’m sure there’s more to come on this front as things continue to develop.