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Major League Baseball and its players’ union are in negotiations on the parameters – both financial and otherwise – for the 2020 MLB season to finally start after the current delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As is the nature of the medical realities of the moment, businesses like the Brewers are trying to figure out what a season may look like – not only on the field, but off it.
“We’re trying to model so many different scenarios, each of which have a monumental financial (implication),” said Brewers President and COO Rick Schlesinger on WTMJ’s Town Hall Tuesday.
“One of the things we’re focused on is how we get our players, uniformed personnel and core support staff…to Miller Park to prepare for a season.”
The biggest aspect of that, Schlesinger says, involves safety.
“The reality is, we’re going to have to prepare in advance for different contingencies, including a player or more testing positive.”
“We’re trying to come up with very rigorous testing, monitoring, ways to quarantine, ways to address things, minimize the risk….it’s unrealistic to think that when you have 30 clubs…the likelihood is there’s going to be a positive test. We need to address that now.”
Schlesinger admits that under the current nature of COVID-19 and how it can so easily spread in a range of at least six feet to other people, social distancing guidelines make large crowds at a Brewers home game nearly impossible to imagine this season.
“I don’t know if we’re going to have 40,000 fans at Miller Park anytime soon.”
He also said that the Korean baseball league’s fan-less operations are giving MLB some ideas on how it could operate with fans if necessary.
But the Brewers admit that fans are the lifeblood of their operations – both emotionally and when it comes to the bottom line. Communicating the ticket situation with them has been a major key to their sustainability, according to Schlesinger.
“Really supportive. Our suite holders, season ticket holders, sponsors have been fantastic,” he said, describing how fans are responding to them.
“We want to see games, and we’re going to keep our money on the account, and let’s hope we see games. If we can’t, we’ll figure something out.”
They have remembered their necessity to be involved in helping a community in need as well, both through charity and through online content they have provided fans.
“We’ve tried to not forget our roots, not forget the people of the state built Miller Park…supported the team through good times and rough times. We just did a mass distribution of $1.3 million to part-time workers who service Miller Park who have lost income because we haven’t had games,” Schlesinger said.
“We’ve partnered with United Way and other charities through our community foundation. We’re reaching out to do virtual tailgates where we’ve delivered things to some of our fans.”
They’ve also delivered virtual happy hours and game broadcasts including WTMJ Brewers Classics, like Wednesday’s radio-exclusive replay of the 1992 game where Robin Yount earned his 3,000th hit and Monday’s replay of 1982’s ALCS Game 5, when the Brewers clinched their only World Series appearance.
“Any content we can provide has been well received. I just hope we have content of actual games, Ueck broadcasting on WTMJ live and having that experience.”