While Wednesday afternoon was warm and a bit breezy, it would have been a chilly night at T-Mobile Park with the roof open. It’s to be expected this time of the year. Blankets and coats are a given for spring baseball in the Puget Sound. The crowd probably wouldn’t have been large, but with the Houston Astros making their first appearance in Seattle of the 2020 season, there would’ve been smattering of boos for Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve and more than a few jeers and mocks about banging garbage cans and cheating players.
Instead, the park remains dormant, waiting, like the rest of us, for baseball to begin in some way.
More than a month of a games have been postponed/canceled due to the spread of the novel coronavirus and the shutdown of Major League Baseball, and at least another month of games will join them in the never-played category.
On Wednesday, the Mariners sent out emails to season-ticket holders, groups who have purchased suites and single-game ticket purchasers to outline the process for tickets through May 31.
From the email: “While Major League Baseball continues to look at all options for the 2020 season, we do know that Mariners home games originally scheduled in March, April and May will not be played at T-Mobile Park.”
The team also updated its Frequently Asked Questions page at Mariners.com to provide similar information.
While other teams around baseball also announced similar information Wednesday, the Mariners already had started the process for the first scheduled homestand of the season.
“Since our first seven games had been technically canceled after Gov. Inslee’s banning of large events, we were in a little different position than some of the other Major League Baseball teams,” said Frances Traisman, the Mariners’ senior vice president of sales. “So we’d already communicated early in mid-March, our refund policy. We’ve been refunding single-game buyers for those first few games.
“Today, we just announced to some of our other constituents both season-ticket holders, groups and suite buyers, as well as single-game buyers who have tickets, anywhere from the beginning of the season through May 31, that those games are now considered postponed.”
Season-ticket holders — full-season, 20-game and 10-game plans — will receive a credit on their account for the lost games.
From the email sent to season ticket holders: “All Season Ticket Members will automatically receive a credit to their account for tickets to impacted or missed games through May 31. The credit will be applied to your account by May 8 and can be used in 2020 or carried over to the 2021 season.”
The Mariners hope they won’t lose the season-ticket base by offering incentives for them.
If a season-ticket holder uses 85 percent of their ticket investment, or roll it into a 2021 season-ticket plan, they would receive complimentary games in 2021 prorated to their plan. The season-ticket plan pricing will remain the same for 2021. For full-season ticket holders, they’d receive the first 11 games free, 20-game plans would be two games plus opening day and a 10-game plan holder one game plus opening day.
Fans who purchased the new flex plans would receive a certain number of tickets based on the level they paid for and they could redeem in their first 11 games of the season.
For single-game ticket holders, who purchased them through mariners.com or the team’s partners, Ticketmaster or Fevo, they need to make the refund request through Ticketmaster.
“It’s similar to what we’ve had and have been processing those regularly,” Traisman said. “We’ve had no challenges at all. We have a great relationship with (Ticketmaster). Our ticket operations works very closely with them.”
Fans who purchased tickets through a team store or another Mariners-based location, should email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. People who purchased tickets through third-party sites will have to go through those sites.
A reminder, these refunds are only on home games through the end of May. People holding single-game tickets or group tickets or suites for games for June 1 or after will have to wait until there is more clarity from Major League Baseball.
“We certainly have been working with fans throughout this experience,” Traisman said. “We certainly encourage them if they have any questions, they can reach out to us and they have not been officially postponed.”
The Mariners will notify those ticket holders when they get an update from MLB and similar guidelines are expected to follow.
“As soon as we have any additional information, as we’ve been doing, we’ve been communicating that as soon as we know,” she said.
This sort of situation wasn’t something the Mariners had planned in the months leading up to spring training.
“We didn’t have anything like this on our shelves,” Traisman said. “Our focus is always on our fans and our customers, making it as easy as possible for them both to purchase tickets and then if something changes then to make a change. That’s why we’ve always had a really liberal exchange policy and some of the other practices that we’ve had in place that maybe other teams don’t have.
“This was a real challenge because we don’t know when it’s going to end, and we aren’t really in control of that. Those are two things that makes it difficult to make decisions.”
And if MLB decides on a season without fans in the stands?
Said Traisman: “We feel like all the plans we have in place will easily roll into that scenario.”
Minor League Baseball rebuffs report from local site
While the future of the minor league baseball is still very much in doubt, there is not plan to cancel the season as of yet. On Wednesday, Joe Doyle of Lookout Landing, a Mariners’ fan website, reported multiple player agents representing minor leaguers, had told him MLB has officially decided to cancel the 2020 minor league season.
Multiple outlets, including Baseball America, refuted the report. Minor League Baseball eventually released the following statement:
“The report circulating tonight that the 2020 Minor League Baseball season has been canceled is false. Minor League Baseball has confirmed with Major League Baseball that no such statement was made. No decision has been made as to when it will be safe to begin the 2020 season.”
Lookout Landing later amended the story based on this statement.