SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — With the start of Major League Baseball season push back until at least May by the coronavirus outbreak, the San Francisco Giants announced Tuesday they were establishing a $1 million fund to help struggling stadium workers.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Monday that opening day has been pushed back to mid-May at the earliest following a conference call with executives of the 30 teams. He said the decision came after the federal government restricted events to have 50 or less people for eight weeks as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“The clubs remain committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement.
Aware of the financial burden the delay would have on the event staff at Oracle Park, Giants President & CEO Larry Baer said the team felt it needed to do something to help.
In addition to the $1 million pledged by the club, the Giants will ask its ownership group and business partners to also support this effort.
The team said more details would be forthcoming on how the funds would be distributed.
“Our event staff is the heart and soul of Oracle Park,” Baer said. “During these challenging times, we want to provide peace of mind and support to our event staff employees so they can focus on their family and loved ones.”
Major League Baseball had already MLB called off the rest of the spring training schedule and had said opening day, which had been scheduled for March 26, was postponed for at least two weeks. Teams and players agree that two to four weeks of additional spring training will be needed before the regular season begins.
This year marked the earliest opening day other than for international games. As it stood, Game 7 of the World Series would have been Oct. 28, and teams and players could push the postseason into November.
Any change to the 162-game schedule would necessitate bargaining over an array of issues, including when and how much players get paid and how much major league service they are credited for. Service time determines eligibility for free agency and salary arbitration.
Players made a counteroffer to MLB on Sunday, and management told the union it would not respond until Tuesday at the earliest.
Clubs also were told to call MLB if they wanted assistance with credit lines, a person familiar with Manfred’s call said, speaking on condition of anonymity because that detail was not announced.
MLB has not had a mass postponement of openers since 1995, when the season was shortened from 162 games to 144 following a 7 1/2-month players’ strike that also wiped out the 1994 World Series. Opening day was pushed back from April 2 to April 26 and player salaries were reduced by 11.1% because the games were lost due to a strike.