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Major League Baseball will allow its 30 teams to update their ticket policies for games postponed by the coronavirus pandemic, setting up the possibility that fans will receive refunds, according to multiple reports on Tuesday.
MLB has yet to officially cancel any games and still plans to reschedule postponed dates once the public health situation allows. But with no restart date in sight in the near term, MLB is informing teams they can alter their ticket policies on an individual basis to address the situation and will have the authority to refund purchases, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a source with knowledge of the matter.
An MLB spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The 2020 season was originally scheduled to begin on March 26. MLB joined other U.S. sports leagues in suspending league activities in mid-March in order to comply with shelter-in-place orders and bans on mass gatherings.
Under normal circumstances, fans are generally limited to ticket swaps or credits in the event that an MLB game can’t be played due to rain or other obstacles. MLB teams don’t typically offer ticket refunds.
However, sports leagues have faced criticism in recent days for failing to refund ticket purchases as a time when many Americans are out of work or contending with financial hardships due to the pandemic. Most MLB teams have had about 20 percent of their home schedules postponed during the crisis, with no guarantee that the full schedule will be played this year.
The stoppage has cost MLB teams and franchises in other sports millions of dollars in expected revenue from ticket sales and other sources. Several franchises have enacted executive pay cuts and other cost-cutting measures.
MLB is exploring multiple scenarios to play out the full 162-game schedule this year, including the possibility of sending all teams to play games in Arizona or Florida and extending the season deeper into the fall. President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci have each suggested that U.S. sports will likely resume without fans in attendance at games.