When Will MLB Return, When Will Detroit Tigers Start Their 2020 Season?

Posted on March 17, 2020

Detroit baseball fans, make your plans to hunker down. Major League Baseball has postponed Tigers’ opening day indefinitely.

On Monday, March 16, MLB announced it is delaying the start of the 2020 season until further notice. Because of that, there’s no way of knowing when Detroit will begin play this year.

The latest information on Tigers’ opening day 2020

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB is following the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, the CDC recommends all gatherings of at least 50 people scheduled over the next eight weeks be canceled or postponed.

Because of that, it looks like the earliest the Tigers could start playing is sometime in May. Even that may be too optimistic, however.

The situation in Michigan is very fluid right now. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer confirmed the first cases of coronavirus in her state on Monday as well.

Whitmer followed that by declaring a state of emergency. Although she has made no other decisions like banning gatherings or closing public schools, that may be on the horizon now.

It’s possible the situation could stabilize itself enough that coaches, gameday staff, players and umpires could return to work in a couple of months. That’s no guarantee that the Tigers or MLB would open Comerica Park to spectators, however.

Why MLB may start its season without spectators

Playing games without fans in attendance is a real possibility. There are two reasons why it would be an acceptable alternative for the Tigers.

First, it would help to mitigate the loss of revenue Detroit is feeling right now. The sooner the Tigers can start playing games for their media partners to broadcast, the better for the bottom line.

Secondly, keeping fans out of Comerica will continue to limit the spread of the virus. Fans are not only packed into stadiums during baseball games, but MLB parks are full of hard surfaces that the virus can live on for days.

There’s another reason why getting games going, even without spectators, would be great for the Tigers. It involves Michigan’s legal sportsbooks.

Games + live betting on the contests = revenue

One of the parts of Michigan’s sports betting law is a requirement that benefits the Tigers’ bottom line. It pertains to just one facet of wagering on MLB, however.

Michigan mandates that its sportsbook licensees use official data sources to set live bets. For example, whether Miguel Cabrera will strike out in a particular plate appearance.

Even if there are no spectators in parks, sportsbooks will create markets for MLB games as soon as they resume. That will include popular in-game bets.

Because of the mandate, sportsbooks like the FanDuel book at MotorCity Casino will buy data from MLB’s official providers. Those providers have to pay MLB for such a distinction.

MLB shares such revenue with its member franchises. In that way, the Tigers benefit from betting action on baseball games.

That action can’t start until the games start. Right now the hope is for May, but there are no guarantees as this situation remains fluid. Until MLB makes further announcements, there’s no way to know when Tigers’ opening day will happen.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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