Now, MLB isn’t the only entity surveying fans about venue safety: We’ve recently received a few new survey results and will be sharing them after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and we would be shocked if the MLB poll results significantly differed from other survey results. In terms of the MLB survey, it’s clear that planning is underway both for spring training and the regular season in 2021: right now, it’s not a matter of if, but how. That means establishing some milestones to gauge levels of interest, and what needs to happen before a fan considers a return to the ballpark. We are still in a huge state of uncertainty about how the pandemic will affect our lives in 2021: yes, vaccines are on the way, but with most of the country basically a hot zone, it requires a leap of faith to look past today’s woes and crowded ICU units to see a spring and summer where we take steps toward normalcy.
Still, asking fans to take that leap is what MLB is asking of fans in the survey, per the Los Angeles Times:
In a survey presented to a sample of visitors on the league’s website, fans are asked to estimate when they believe live sporting events will be safe to attend; to suggest what percentage of tickets should be sold; to rate the response of local, state, and federal authorities to the pandemic; and to say how they would determine whether going to a game would be safe.
For instance: Would a fan attend if a vaccine were widely available? Would that fan rely on declines in cases of the coronavirus, and in hospitalizations? Would that fan take the word of a mayor, governor, president, or public health authority saying a game would be safe?
“Major League Baseball is understandably concerned that simply telling fans it’s safe to come back might not be enough,” said Dan Schnur, a USC politics and communications professor and former Republican strategist. “Like everyone else in the country, they’re trying to figure out who would be a respected validator.”
We’ve been following the fan-attitude polls since the COVID-19 pandemic impacted pro and college sports, and one thing stands out: the urgent need to assure safety. MLB had a trial run of COVID-19 mitigation measures when a limited number of fans were allowed into the World Series at Globe Life Field, and the measures taken there will likely be replicated at every other pro ballpark in conjunction with local health officials. Some teams, like the New York Yankees with Yankee Stadium, upgraded procedures to earn a WELL Health-Safety Rating, and we expect more teams to go this route this offseason as well.
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