As fans filed into the Kansas City Royals spring training ballpark in Surprise, Arizona late on Thursday morning, many expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to simply see a baseball game. Any baseball game.
While a series of light rain showers in the Phoenix area had already given many Cactus League teams a reason to cancel their games, the Royals were still officially scheduled to play the Seattle Mariners at 1:05 p.m. local time. Updates from social media and industry contacts indicated that spring training games were likely to be cancelled or postponed for at least several weeks, but at 11:30 a.m., the gates opened at Surprise Stadium and a handful of spectators entered.
While the game was officially on, the only game Cactus League game not yet cancelled, there was a conspicuous lack of activity on the field. No pitchers in the bullpen, no one throwing or stretching in the outfield. Baseball today seemed unlikely. Less than 20 minutes later, the dulcet tones of stadium announcer Tony Rigsbee issued the bad news; today’s game was not going to be played.
By 12:30 p.m., nearly all the fans had left, and a few short lines remained at the ticket windows. The stadium box office was cheerfully accepting requests for refunds. The fans were philosophical, joking about the current value of today’s tickets, casually discussing the possibilities for a resumption of professional baseball, and speculating on what would be cancelled next.
Despite the jokes, there is little cause for happiness in the Valley of the Sun late this afternoon as a steady rain fell in downtown Phoenix. In the coming days, local leaders and baseball official begin to assess the impact on the fans, the players, the hosting communities and Arizona’s tourism industry.
Photos by Mark Cryan.
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