Commissioner Says Baseball Could Lose Four Billion Dollars

Major League Baseball is still trying to clear a number of hurdles to begin the 2020 season, and there remains confidence that the campaign will not be canceled altogether. If it were, however, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the league and its owners would be missing out on several billion dollars.

Manfred estimated during an appearance on CNN Thursday that the cancellation of the 2020 MLB season would cost team owners $4 billion. He didn’t go into detail about where that number comes from.

“The economic effects are devastating, frankly, for the clubs. We’re a big business, but we’re a seasonal business,” Manfred said. “Unfortunately, this crisis began at kind of a low point for us in terms of revenue. We hadn’t quite started our season yet. If we don’t play a season, the losses for the owners could approach $4 billion.”

MLB and other leagues still have contracts with TV networks, so they will make money even if games are played in empty stadiums. Manfred said that would not be an ideal scenario, but MLB owners are committed to it because they want fans to be able to have baseball back.

“Playing in empty stadiums is not a great deal for us economically, but our owners are committed to doing that because they feel it’s important that the game be back on the field and that the game be a sign of beginning to returning to normalcy and American life as we’ve always enjoyed it,” Manfred added.

Of course, team owners also want revenue. That is why leagues like MLB and the NBA have yet to cancel their seasons. They’re willing to wait as long as possible to salvage something.

One of the biggest issues for MLB at the moment is coming up with an agreement with players for a pay structure. Players have already agreed to prorate their salaries in the event that a full season can’t be played.