Dodgers and Angels say staging games without fans would require extensive personnel

Dodgers and Angels say staging games without fans would require extensive personnel

Dodgers and Angels say staging games without fans would require extensive personnel 1

Latest in a series of articles on the future of 2020 from major sports leagues.

The pre-pandemic staging of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium required “a symphony of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people,” said Stan Kasten, the team’s president and chief executive officer.

When baseball returns this summer, that philharmonic convergence of players, coaches, executives, medical personnel, media, clubgoers, ushers, vendors, franchisees, security guards, parking attendants, plumbers, and electricians will be reduced to the equivalent of a string quartet stadium worker.

Fans are expected to be excluded from the start of a shortened 2020 season, or games will be played in home parks with the league divided into three regional teams of 10 teams (increasingly likely); games are played in Florida, Texas and Arizona (questionable); or 30 teams start playing in the Phoenix area (highly unlikely).

That would remove the need for most of the approximately 1,800 spectator-related stadium workers that Kasten and Angels team President John Carpino say will be needed for regular home games.

In an effort to reduce exposure and possible spread of the coronavirus, Major League Baseball is expected to limit access to the stadium to ‘essential personnel’. But who would be considered essential and who wouldn’t?

At first glance, the list is probably longer than expected.

“It’s going to be a mathematical model – the more people you have, the greater the risk of someone getting the virus or spreading the virus,” said Carpino. “I’ve looked at how we can do this without fans, and you keep thinking, ‘We don’t need anyone.’

“Then you think: what about security? Oh yes. What about chefs in the dining room of the clubhouse? Oh yes. What about a statistician? Oh yes. What about a video man? Oh yes. you know you have three dozen oh yeah. I hardly know how to attack it. “

Kasten said the Dodgers have been working on models for ‘essential’ game teams, but since there is no plan or date for a solid start, clarity remains unclear.

“As soon as it came up, we started looking at it, and it’s like everything else – we still have more questions than answers,” said Kasten. “It will depend on what guidance we get from baseball, the city and the state, what restrictions are imposed on playing a game without fans.”

MLB officials have been in constant contact with teams, the players’ association and medical experts as they formulate a path forward, but the league is “not ready to go into this topic in depth right now,” a spokesman said this week.

“I trust the direction of MLB, it’s something they talk about non-stop seven days a week,” said Angels general manager Billy Eppler. “They ask clubs for feedback, they use many of these questions through crowdsourcing, and they will come up with the infrastructure that puts the health and safety of the players and those around them at the forefront of every decision.” ”

Kasten and Carpino said they expect MLB to issue a consistent set of guidelines to teams with limits on the number and types of uniformed and non-uniformed personnel allowed into the stadium.

Both executives estimate that an “essential” group needs at least 100 people, consisting of 30-35 players, a manager, 11-12 coaches, a 10-12 medical staff – including physicians, athletic trainers, and strength and conditioning trainers – an equipment manager, four or five clubhouse employees, two video room coordinators, a traveling secretary, and a handful of front office managers.

“There will be limitations [clubhouse attendants]? Do both teams have the same number of trainers, doctors and X-ray technicians, or will the home team provide them? Said Closets. “Should we operate the scoreboards? Do we need an announcer?

“Then there is the whole world of media. Are there any restrictions on the number of numbers allowed in a stadium? Do we have pool reporting? How do we do [keep reporters] divorce? Are there personal interviews or is everything in the press box? I do not know. Oh, we have questions, man, many questions. “

One approach would be to have a bubble in the bubble – restricting access to the field and clubhouse to one group, while others only have access to the stadium.

The first group would include the ones mentioned above, as well as the four referees, an MLB video room monitor, two or three drug testers on the days of tests, a clubhouse guard, six to twelve on-site staff, a handful of kitchen staff, and a cleaning crew.

The latter group may include broadcasters, television and radio crew members, writers, an official scorer, P.A. announcer, scoreboard and video board operators, media relations officers, baseball equipment distributors, plumber maintenance crews, electricians, HVAC technicians and mechanics and – at least in the case of Dodger Stadium – organist Dieter Ruehle.

“Even with the stadium closed, we have at least six people there every day,” said Carpino. “And we still have on-site security.”

If MLB places strict restrictions on access to stadiums, TV and radio announcers may broadcast games from outside studios, and writers may broadcast games from TV with post-game interviews conducted via video chat.

One area that nobody wants to cut back on is the medical staff.

“You have the side of developing skills, that’s your coaching group on the field, and the medical side, that’s your physical therapists, athletic trainers, chiropractor, massage therapist,” Eppler said. “In general, with all these models, we’re still talking about playing a physical game that requires a certain standard of care, and you don’t want to take that away from your athletes.”

Another problem MLB has to address: If there is no minor league season, teams will need to have taxi teams of at least 15-20 players who need coaching, medical care, athletic training and matches – with umpires – to stay sharp.

Will they train and play in home stadiums, greatly increasing the number of people in the bubble or in another facility?

“It’s a lot of moving parts,” said Carpino, “but I feel that MLB is definitely working on it and looking at everything, and we’re looking to direct everyone.”


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