With no indication of when it could resume its season in home markets amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, MLS has proposed placing all 26 teams in the Orlando area this summer and playing competitive matches without spectators at the Disney sports complex and possibly other locations, multiple people familiar with the plan said.
Players, coaches and support staff, numbering more than 1,000, would live under quarantine at one of the large resorts near Walt Disney World for an undetermined length of time, said those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.
Teams would practice and play primarily at ESPN Wide World of Sports, which sits on 220 acres as part of Disney’s massive footprint in central Florida. Disney-owned ESPN is one of MLS’s broadcast partners.
Spokesmen for MLS and the MLS Players Association said they did not want to comment. The Walt Disney Co. did not reply to a message seeking comment.
The league is expected to accelerate plans over the next two weeks and set the framework for resuming a season that, because of the pandemic, was shuttered in March after two weekends of matches.
In jurisdictions where such activities are permitted, several teams have begun voluntary individual workouts. The league has postponed all matches until at least June 8, though the realistic timetable stretches deeper into the summer.
MLS hopes to soon allow players to begin training as part of small groups in local markets, a step the Bundesliga took last month before ramping up operations. The elite German circuit, along with the country’s second division, will resume this weekend with matches played without spectators. Other European leagues have also made plans to restart their seasons in the coming weeks.
Under its Orlando plan, MLS would welcome teams for workouts and multiple matches per day, which ESPN platforms would carry. It’s unclear whether the league’s other TV partners, Fox Sports and Univision, would show games.
Without spectators in the stadium, MLS is eyeing opportunities to bond with fans through behind-the-scenes packages and interactive engagement on ESPN and the league’s digital platform.
Florida partially reopened nonessential businesses last week, although sports venues, including ESPN Wide World of Sports, remain closed.
Players would have to be tested regularly — provided tests are even available in large quantities — and undergo regular medical evaluations.
They would not be allowed to bring their families, two people familiar with the plans said. For those with children, it would place a long-term burden on their spouses, and it would put emotional strains on relationships in general.
The league would also have to consider the health and safety of hotel and stadium employees, bus drivers, security and TV crews and accredited media. MLS would presumably have a contingency plan in place in case anyone tests positive.
“What is most important is to ensure they are safe in whatever environment we are able to develop to get them back to train first and then obviously get back to playing games,” Garber told Yahoo Finance last week.
At some point, the league would plan to send teams home for games without spectators, though varying degrees of state restrictions might leave some unable to host matches in the foreseeable future.
The Orlando idea is among multiple options that have been considered by MLS, which, like other pro sports leagues, is exploring ways to play without endangering players and employees.
Among the proposals is to select two or more locations to stage workouts and matches this summer. The league has also braced for not playing any games until at least September.
MLS does have some calendar flexibility. The regular season is scheduled to end in early October and the postseason one month later. In the past, the playoffs have finished the second week of December.
League officials have said they would consider playing a truncated schedule into the winter and holding MLS Cup at a predetermined, warm-weather site in early 2021.
The scheduling plans come as MLS and the MLSPA continue to negotiate salary cuts for the players. The league, which relies heavily on game-day revenue, sent its latest proposal to the union late last week.
What do you think prevents this team from having an organic and enthusiastic, stadium-packing fan culture around it, like SKC or Portland?
Where would you rank "Red Bull New York" among the best and worst names/identities/logos of all the pro sports teams in NY & NJ?
let me put on my Long Island Medium wig and make a guess.... I'm getting a sense that you believe the RB name/identity and logo is the reason we don't have an organic and enthusiastic, stadium-packing fan culture. How'd I do?
Your reference to time without soccer moms caused me to think - there were plenty of soccer moms at the kearny games - just not prototypical soccer moms. (not saying the below was done by anyone from Kearny)
- What was the most outrageous thing:
1) you have seen a soccer Mom do?
My displeasure with soccer moms isn't really about that stuff. There have always been assholes. Its about the culture of these kids being coddled, and playing the game because its made so easy for them to, not because they actually love it. I couldn't imagine ever, for example, going to a game and forgetting my cleats or shin pads and having my mom bring them to me. That happened all the time with kids I coached. First off, I would never forget that stuff - my head was thinking about nothing else all day except practice or the game. My mom didn't even know I was at practice or had a game most of the time. I went to Pele soccer camp the summer before my freshman year. My cleats were worn down pretty bad (hand me downs to begin with, and I had worn them almost a full year already) and I was slipping all over the place. The coach told me I needed new cleats or couldn't play. Did I call my mom and ask her to buy me a new pair and bring them to me? Of course not. I did the right thing and stole a pair off some kid. This is why our current World Cup teams suck. /End old man rant
Great to watch...I loved the flashback to a time without soccer moms. I played on a travelling team in Bergen County the 70's. We weren't one of those "rich kid" teams they talked about. We were a mostly blue collar team with the same kind of chip on our shoulder, and were very good, almost dominant, relative to our "rich kid" competition. Our coach thought it would be a good idea to scrimmage the Scots, who played in a different league. After 5 minutes, they were up by 3 and played the rest of the game with 9 or 10 guys, and stuck some field player in goal, just to keep it interesting. Pretty sure the final score was double digits for them, and maybe we scored one.
The elephant in the room that is going to become harder to ignore is that the virus just isn't that deadly, despite the government hysteria and doomsday predictions from those in academia that everyone seems to be accepting with any critical thinking.
When I say that I'm not in any way trying to trivialize those who have lost their lives because of coronavirus. May they rest in peace.
Yet the number of positive cases is far outpacing the number of deaths. Cuomo has single-handedly destroyed the economy in New York (the state that has the most cases) over a virus that currently has a .007% mortality rate there. And that rate is only going to drop as more people come back with positive tests but escape death.
I'm anticipating the national narrative to shift in the next two weeks to quarantining the elderly and those at risk and letting everyone go back to basically their normal lives. The severity just isn't there to continue shutting things down and running the country like this.
You are only doing half the math. Yes, few of the people who get it die from it. The problem is, so many people get it (when these guidelines aren't in place). The thing spreads far more quickly than anything like it. Its not as deadly as the flu, the flu doesn't spread very easily. This spreads more quickly and easily than (insert reference to something that spreads very, very quickly and easily).