The year 2020 was a difficult one for many industries; airline and hotels saw their lowest numbers in years and most sustained significant losses. The restaurant industry was forced to change its business model to accommodate lockdown measures and the healthcare industry was under more pressure than ever before thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The sporting industry also felt the weight of the pandemic as stadiums were shut down for months and have still not returned to full capacity. For baseball fans, some of whom often bet money on the game, 2020 was not the best of years. As we enter a new year, there is concerns about what 2021 holds for the beloved MLB.
Looking Into 2021 MLB
Even as vaccinations against the COVID-19 virus are being distributed across the globe, it will likely take a good while before baseball can return to normal. In 2020, the game went from seeing around 3.3 million fans in attendance for games to nearly zero. This loss of audience translates to a significant reduction in income. In total, the losses nearly reach $3 billion.
Industry experts suggest that these losses will be borne by players, who are usually accustomed to multi-million-dollar contracts.
“Revenues are going down, so it will be most likely [that] payroll will go down,” Cardinals’ president of baseball operation John Mozeliak said. “…When you go from having 3.3 or 3.4 million fans in your ballpark to having zero, that’s a big hit.”
While the signing figures ahead of this year’s projected 162-game season are smaller, all hope might not be lost. Some suggest that teams will use this industry downturn to acquire choice players for smaller figures before the pandemic is over.
In terms of games, nothing is set in stone yet. A single outbreak could trigger legislation that will halt planned games. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccinations are already taking place globally. Additionally, various regions are already predicting the number of vaccinations to be administered by the end of the year. If some of the current numbers are believable, MLB could be recoup some of its losses by 2022.
Furthermore, the 2021 season will not likely be as disastrous as the 2020 season because teams will not be surprised. Instead, teams likely already have contingency plans in place in case another outbreak occurs. In that scenario, the focus can shift to more reliable sources of income such as pay-per-view.
The pandemic has forced industries to evolve in order to survive and MLB is no different. From the cost-cutting measures with regards to players to the expansion of income, it is clear that while the 2021 season will not be able to fully escape the effects of the pandemic, MLB will be able to coast through to better times.
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