The Twins are scheduled to open the season against the Athletics and Mariners. But where those games are going to be played is anyone’s guess.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, acting in response to the spread of coronavirus, on Wednesday banned large gatherings in three counties, including King County where Seattle’s T-Mobile Park is located, through the end of the month. The order affects conventions, concerts — and sporting events, including the Twins’ scheduled visit to Seattle on March 30-April 1.
Later in the day, the city of Oakland and Alameda (Calif. ) County followed suit, prohibiting public gatherings of 1,000 people or more through the end of the month while canceling all events at the Coliseum, where the Twins and Athletics were scheduled to open the season with four games March 26-29. The A’s said they are working with Major League Baseball on alternative plans for the games.
The games will still be played, Twins President Dave St. Peter said. But the question now is: Where?
“We’re in daily communication with Major League Baseball and over the course of this week, we’ve also been in communication with both the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners, regarding our first road trip,” St. Peter said. “Multiple scenarios are being considered about where games will be played, and no decisions have been made. The Twins will continue to work closely with Major League Baseball and the Mariners to finalize those plans.”
The Twins president would not comment on specific possibilities, but said a wide range of options are being explored. The Mariners, who were to open the season with four home games against the Rangers, could simply remain at their spring complex in Peoria, Ariz., a suburb northwest of Phoenix, and host both series in the 12,000-seat stadium they share with the Padres. The A’s also train in the Phoenix area, at 10,500-seat Hohokam Stadium in Mesa.
As for other options, Major League Baseball could also find a vacant major league stadium, as the Indians did in 2007 when a Midwest blizzard forced them to move games against the Angels to Milwaukee. They could relocate to a suitable minor league or college stadium. Or MLB could simply flip the series with the Athletics’ visit to Target Field April 2-5 and the Mariners’ visit April 20-23, though that would risk weather disruptions in Minneapolis and there’s no certainty the coronavirus situation will have improved by then. It’s unclear if MLB would or could have the teams play in empty stadiums in Oakland and/or Seattle.
“I’m not aware of any options that have been eliminated. It’s all still on the table. The reality of this situation is, it’s all fluid,” St. Peter said. “While we might like baseball to make a decision sooner vs. later, they’re going to make the decision when they feel they have the best opportunity to make the best decision in the safest environment for the participating teams and fans. And based on the spread of the coronavirus, that can change from day to day and week to week. It’s a tricky situation.”
St. Peter wouldn’t comment on the Twins’ preference, but said he had expressed it to MLB, which will make the final call. The Twins aren’t certain when that decision will be made, but “we believe we will be given adequate time to make our plans and insure our team is where it needs to be to open the season.”
Baseball considerations, though, are meaningless in the face of a pandemic, he added.
“It’s unfortunate, but clearly certain parts of the country are impacted at this point a little more than others,” St. Peter said. “It’s a tough situation that everyone across the game is dealing with, and the people of Seattle and King County in particular are dealing with it more than anywhere else.”