The world is in a state of disarray. That’s no secret. We are all in a holding pattern, not knowing when we will be able to go back to anything resembling normal. Major League Baseball is no different.
MLB made the correct decision to postpone the start of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12th. The regular season was set to begin on March 28th. We are approaching the date in which the season would have been one month old, yet one major question hasn’t been answered.
What are fans supposed to do about their tickets?
MLB has yet to issue a mandate for teams to either refund tickets or offer some sort of swap for if/when games begin. Of course, these are unprecedented factors, so it’s understandable to an extent that the league hasn’t addressed this issue yet. But it has been over a month since the season was delayed and yet there is no answer.
Here’s a personal anecdote to explain the situation. I purchased the spring ballpark pass for $90 back on March 5th. That was to give me access to 18 Phillies home games between April and May. I sent an email to the Phillies ticket office on March 30th asking if there was any information regarding a plan to either replace or refund those tickets. I promptly received an email back that informed me that the Phillies were working with Major League Baseball on a plan to address this issue. It said that MLB should be releasing a statement that week.
This article was written on April 18th. I still do not know if my tickets will be refunded or honored at a later date. MLB has yet to make a public declaration about a refund policy for the 2020 season.
Where we are now
Technically, MLB considers the 2020 season to be “postponed.” That leads one to believe that MLB thinks a full 162 game schedule is not yet out of the question. That seems almost impossible at this point. It certainly seems impossible to have fans in attendance for any games that may be played in 2020. The Dodgers and Angels have already told fans they are not refunding tickets yet. Same for StubHub, MLB’s largest ticket resale partner.
As the days go by, the chances of any baseball being played in 2020 grow dimmer and dimmer. MLB has to address this issue and do the right thing. They have to begin to offer fans refunds for games that may never be played. At the very least, they have to let fans know what their contingency plan for this issue is in the increasingly likely event of a cancelled season.
Plans regarding playing games in a bio dome-esque environment in Arizona have been leaked and discussed. If this is what MLB thinks will be the only chance for games to be played, they need to let fans get their money back for games they will not be able to attend.
Learn from others’ mistakes
LiveNation, the country’s largest concert promoter who owns Ticketmaster, has recently been forced to change course on refunds. Originally, Ticketmaster had changed its language on its policy to say refunds were only available in the event of a cancellation, not postponement. The company changed this tune after receiving heavy criticism online and is now offering refunds and coupons for all shows.
That situation is not all that dissimilar from MLB. Many concerts were considered “postponed” meaning they will still happen but at a much later date, much like baseball season at this point. MLB needs to see where LiveNation and Ticketmaster failed. They need to get out in front of this issue before it blows up in their face. Confidence in the commissioner is already low following the Astros cheating scandal. The league needs to get this one right.