MLB teams will revise ticket refund policies during coronavirus shutdown, per report

Major League Baseball, like most sports leagues around the world, is currently on indefinite hiatus because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) threat. Spring training was suspended last month and Opening Day has been pushed back until an unknown date.

Opening Day was originally scheduled for March 26 and, to date, MLB clubs have not yet offered ticket refunds to most customers. That will soon change thanks to political and social pressure. According to Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, MLB will soon announce new ticket policies that set the wheels in motion for refunds. From Diamond:

Fans this week will finally receive an answer to the question: When will I get my money back? Teams are planning to unveil new ticket policies, following updated guidance from the league office, that lay the groundwork for refunds, a person familiar with the matter said. 

MLB is now telling teams that they can devise plans to handle their own situations as they see fit. Representatives from several clubs responded to an inquiry from The Wall Street Journal by saying that they soon expected to release details of their new policies-including how fans can request refunds. (Some teams had already been quietly processing refunds for individual fans who cited financial hardship on a case-by-case basis, according to several people familiar with the matter, but that approach wasn’t official protocol.)

Thus far MLB teams have been treating tickets purchases for games that were scheduled to take place during the shutdown similar to games that are rained out and rescheduled for a later date. Teams typically allow ticket exchanges or give credit in those cases, but not refunds. Two fans sued MLB, all 30 clubs and ticket resellers last week over this policy during the coronavirus shutdown.

Some teams, including the Cubs and White Sox according to WSCR-AM’s Bruce Levine, have offered to let fans to roll their ticket payments over to 2021 with five percent interest. Other clubs have not communicated anything to fans and are holding their money. That is unacceptable.

Baseball tickets are not cheap, and with COVID-19 causing a spike in unemployment and other financial hardships, a large portion of MLB’s fan base rightfully wants its money refunded. Teams are being hit hard financially by the pandemic too, but that’s not a good reason to keep ticket money for games that aren’t being played.

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