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If it lasts until July, COVID-19 suspension could cost MLB upwards of $2.5B in ticket losses

Matt Johnson
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Just weeks before Opening Day, MLB suspended the start of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Still without a timetable for a return, with reports suggesting July is the best-case scenario, MLB reportedly stands to suffer massive financial losses depending on how long the season is postponed.

According to ticketIQ, the latest estimates project that even missing March and April would cost MLB more than $965 million in lost ticket sales. The data, which is based on secondary market value from average 2019 attendance numbers, projects substantial losses for the league based on MLB’s publicized timeline of potentially returning in May.

However, increasing reports inside the league have indicated MLB executives don’t believe baseball will return until July. If that’s the case, with half the scheduled season wiped out, estimates project that MLB could lose $2.5 billion in lost ticket sales.

The potential losses would be devastating for the entire sport, but a few teams would suffer the greatest losses. Unsurprisingly, MLB teams in the biggest markets could suffer the biggest financial hit, per ticketIQ.

  • New York Yankees: Current estimates project the Yankees would lose $15.1 million, the most in MLB, on Opening Day and $71 million if MLB doesn’t return until May.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: Coming off an exciting offseason, the Dodgers would suffer an $85 million loss through the first two months and potentially up to $200 million if MLB is suspended through the All-Star Break.
  • Boston Red Sox: If, in a worst-case scenario, the entire MLB season is canceled, the Red Sox are estimated to lose $365 million in estimated ticket sales. They would join the Dodgers ($405 million), Yankees ($360 million and St. Louis Cardinals ($309 million) as the teams with the biggest financial loss.

While there are currently no expectations for the 2020 season to be canceled entirely, the financial consequences for the sport could be crushing. The league would lose an estimated $5 billion if it was forced to suspend the entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 epidemic, per ticketIQ.

The cost of an altered season is likely playing a huge part in MLB’s consideration to still hold a 162-game season when it returns. In that scenario, the league would look into fewer days off for players and make double-headers a staple of the 2020 season.

Coming off a year when MLB made a record $10.7 billion in revenue, surpassing the record it set in 2018, the financial fallout from the suspended season will continue to increase the longer baseball doesn’t return.

At a time when the tension between MLB and the MLB Players’ Association is intensifying, with the current CBA set to expire after the 2021 season, the sport is on the brink of suffering a financial hit that could alter it for years to come.