Sounds GM hopeful team could return to play by July

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has been working diligently on a plan to begin the 2020 baseball season at some point during the summer.

Potential hurdles to MLB’s plan include players taking a salary cut and possible health and safety concerns for the players. The proposal,  presented to the MLB Players Association on Tuesday, would cut the schedule to 82 games. Should the MLBPA approve it, professional baseball could return as early as July.

"Whenever there's a discussion about economics, publicly people tend to characterize it as a fight," Manfred said in an interview with CNN’s Global Town Hall. "Me, personally, I have great confidence that we'll reach an agreement with the players association both that it's safe to come back to work and work out the economic issues that need to be resolved."

Under the MLB proposal, the league would begin playing games in empty stadiums in the first half of July and potentially allow fans back with limited capacity after that. All players would be subjected to multiple COVID-19 tests per week with daily temperature checks.

Minor League Baseball clubs, including the Nashville Sounds, are of course awaiting the decision on whether teams can begin playing. Sounds general manager Adam Nuse strongly believes his team will be able to return in the not-too-distant future.

“I’m confident and extremely optimistic about the opportunity to host baseball again,” Nuse told News Channel 5’s Steve Layman.

However, minor league franchises rely primarily on revenue generated from ticket and concession sales. So should MiLB teams get a green light to begin their seasons, the Sounds may have to get creative as far as innovative ways to bring in revenue.

“It would be a huge money loss [to play without fans],” Nuse continued. “It just doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint. But from a fan’s standpoint, we might look to cut a deal with a local TV station. It’s not going to make us a lot of money, but it would bring baseball and some normalcy back.”

Nashville Mayor John Cooper began to reopen the city on Monday. His plan involves four phases, transitioning to a new phase every 14 days. Should everything go according to plan, the Sounds could begin playing at First Horizon Park again by the Fourth of July.

“We’re just trying to figure out — if all the stars could align — when can we have actual games at the ballpark,” Nuse said. “Our hope is if this July Fourth works for MLB [and] it fits really well with Mayor Cooper’s four phases, that by that point July Fourth could be a reality.”        

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