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Let’s talk about ticket refunds for unplayed games

It’s not as simple as you might think.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The photo above shows Wrigley Field on what would have been Opening Day of the 2020 baseball season, March 26. There’s no one in the seats — there wouldn’t have been any until March 30, actually, as that was the scheduled date of the Cubs’ home opener this year against the Pirates.

The coronavirus outbreak has postponed the 2020 baseball season until — well, we don’t know. It could be in a month, it could be July or later, it could happen not at all.

What we do know is that it seems very unlikely that any large-scale events like sporting events, concerts, conferences, etc. will happen during 2020. It just doesn’t seem as if any of those will be approved by governmental authorities until a vaccine for COVID-19 is approved. That isn’t likely to happen until sometime next year.

So that means that IF a Major League Baseball season of some sort is going to happen in 2020, it’s going to be in empty stadiums, either with all 30 teams in Arizona or possibly split between Arizona and Florida.

Thus, you might be wondering, “Why aren’t teams issuing refunds for unplayed games?”

The simple answer is this: No games have been cancelled yet. Officially, the games that haven’t been played over the last two and a half weeks are postponed. Look at the Cubs’ April 2020 schedule:

(Note: You can bet the Cubs would have been looking forward to the upcoming two games in Baltimore.)

While these games are postponed, no refunds are going to be issued. The question was asked to Marc Topkin, a Tampa Bay Rays beat writer, on Twitter:

So. If you’re looking to blame the Cubs for this, don’t. This is a Major League Baseball directive to all teams. As I noted, the games are postponed, not cancelled. If and when the games are officially cancelled, the teams will offer refunds. I would imagine the Cubs and other teams will offer a choice of refund or credit for a future season to season-ticket holders.

I will say this: With the number of jobs being lost currently and many people wondering where their next paycheck is coming from, it would be good of MLB to ask teams to refund ticket money now if there are hardship cases. I hope this will happen sooner rather than later. But it does seem clear that whatever MLB eventually decides (in conjunction with government and health authorities) about a 2020 season, it will not involve fans at the ballparks. At the time that decision is made official, I would hope that refunds would be processed swiftly.