D-backs CEO Derrick Hall: ‘Business as usual’ until MLB, gov’t makes call
Arizona Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall said that it was business as usual Thursday morning as MLB discusses how to handle measures that would be taken to protect teams and fans from spreading the coronavirus.
Hall spoke to Doug & Wolf of Arizona Sports before ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that MLB was expected to suspend spring play in the Cactus League and Grapefruit League. That was likely to delay the start of the regular season.
“It is a strange time right now,” Hall told Doug & Wolf. “Where we are is still business as usual until we hear otherwise. We’ve been fortunate, knock on wood, we’ve had these games and things have gone well. To our knowledge, right? The best of our knowledge, people have enjoyed spring break and spring training, but again, it’s out of our hands and we’ll wait to find out.
“I know we’ve been consulting as a league with health agencies and until we hear from a league or government things are changing, we are trying to keep it business as usual — but the world is changing quickly around us, every minute.”
The D-backs’ Thursday game against the Milwaukee Brewers was halted late Thursday morning due to rain in the Phoenix area, but the team went through drills as usual before it was called off.
The NBA, NHL and MLS were among the sports leagues to suspend operations on Wednesday and Thursday. College basketball leagues widely canceled their conference tournaments after the NCAA imposed a fan ban to its upcoming tournament a day prior.
“We all believe it’s still going to get worse. There’s so many questions and unknowns,” Hall said. “We’re in a business where we’re looking at crowds and we’re looking at destinations and for the most part ours is played outdoors — and we’ve focused a lot on these players and these sports played indoors — but I’m not even sure you can draw the line, and that’s what we’re waiting to find out.”
There had been some talk of other MLB teams, specifically the Seattle Mariners, remaining in Arizona for the regular season with a Washington statewide ban on large gatherings.
That now appears unlikely, though much remains to play out.
If Arizona can host other teams who cannot play at their home stadiums, Hall said the team is willing to act as the best host possible.
“We’re going to say, ‘Come on in, do what you have to do. If there is a way to play at Chase where we think they can get a crowd, we’ll figure out a way to staff it, we’ll figure out a way to reschedule some of those events that are non-baseball.’
“It’s more important that teams are safe, healthy, playing at a place where they think they can do just that. If it’s here, we’re going to make sure we open our doors and that we help them as much as we can and we embrace them and put our arms around them.”