The Seattle Mariners said Wednesday they are working with the Major League Baseball commissioner’s office on alternative plans for its March home games after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee banned large group events in several counties in his state through the end of this month in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus.
It means the Mariners won’t play at home for their home opener at downtown Seattle’s T-Mobile Park, set for March 26 against the Texas Rangers, which kicks off a seven-game homestand. It’s one of 15 games on baseball’s opening day.
The move increases the likelihood that more teams will be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, which the World Health Organization today officially classified as a global pandemic. Already in Europe, major sporting events are being played in empty stadiums to minimize risks. In addition to playing without crowds, U.S. leagues are also pondering moving games to less-impacted cities.
Washington has been the most impacted U.S. state in the current coronavirus climate, with the majority of U.S. deaths coming from King County, where the stadium is located. Public health officials reported 74 new cases Tuesday, bringing the total to 190, with 22 deaths.
Inslee announced bans of gatherings of more than 250 people in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties through the end of March.
“While we hope to be back to playing baseball in Seattle as soon as possible, the health and safety of our community is the most important consideration,” the team said in a statement today.
The move comes after several U.S. pro sports leagues – MLB, the NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer — already jointly agreed to temporarily limited access to locker rooms, with only players and essential staff allowed.
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