Even though there are no concrete plans to restart a baseball season that should be over a month old by now, MLB teams have thus far treated missed games as postponements rather than cancellations. And while teams like the Cubs and White Sox have offered season ticket holders the option to earn 5% interest on their 2020 tickets to put toward next season, the league has not provided guidance when it comes to issuing refunds.
That is about to change, according to a report from Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal. MLB will be allowing each of the 30 teams to update their ticket policies and issue refunds for games missed due to the shutdown. Everyone involved believes the season will resume in some form or fashion, it’s entirely likely that games will not be played in every team’s home park.
Even in the unlikely event that ballparks like Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field are able to host games this summer, something Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she can still envision, it’ll almost certainly happen without fans. And even if spectators are somehow permitted, which Dr. Anthony Fauci believes could happen, they’d have to be limited to allow for social distancing.
Not even the most optimistic Pollyanna on earth believes that MLB can complete a full season with fans in each team’s respective home park, so refunds have to happen. At the very least, clubs are going to have to offer fans their money back for games missed. Whether that comes in per-game, monthly, or full-season increments is not yet known because the league is expected to leave those decisions up to the teams.
As mentioned above, teams are probably going to default to an investment option rather than making proactive refunds. The Pirates, for instance, have already suspended contributions ($) to baseball operations employees’ retirement funds and are probably not too keen on giving back fans’ money without being told explicitly to do so. Of course, every team has already received an interest free loans from those fans who bought tickets to games that will never take place.
We’ll bring you more on this once we learn about the Cubs’ response.