The Dodger home opener that normally floods the streets, restaurants and bars of Echo Park with baseball fans has been postponed for at least two weeks in response to the coronavirus.
Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. today announced the MLB's two-week postponement of the regular season and suspension of spring training games "in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, clubs and our millions of loyal fans," said a statement issued by Major League Baseball.
The Dodgers had been scheduled to play the San Francisco Giants in the season opener on March 26.
"We will provide more information about our plans, including our ticket policy for impacted games, as soon as it is available," the Dodgers said in a statement. "These are unprecedented times, and the health and safety of our community is up utmost importance to the Los Angeles Dodgers."
The move by the MLB comes after the NBA suspended its season and California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday night recommended that all large gatherings expected to draw more than 250 attendees should be cancelled or postponed. The Dodger season opener easily attracts more than 50,000 fans.
There had been speculation that Major League Baseball has reportedly leaned in favor of moving games to locations where there have been no major outbreaks. That's getting tougher to do -- San Francisco has also prohibited large events, including Giants baseball games. Some other sports leagues have continued to hold games but without fans being present.
“It’s obviously very fluid," Andrew Friedman, President of Dodger operations, told the L.A. Times before the league announcement. " And we are trying to do everything we can to make sure our players, our fans, our staff, everyone, is being looked after, we’re being smart about how to handle this."
Postponing games or preventing fans from attending would be a big financial blow to the many bars and restaurants near the stadium that get a significant boost in business before and after the games.
Some Echo Park bars had already begun promoting their proximity to the stadium as the season opener approaches. "Bar Henry is a prime spot to grab a cocktail or two before or after heading to Dodger Stadium," said an email earlier this month from a representative of the Sunset Boulevard bar.
This year the Dodgers were also expected to unveil $100 million worth of improvements, including a new center-field plaza with restaurants, bars, shops and other amenities.
Statement from the Dodgers. pic.twitter.com/lLEWgVuv0V— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 12, 2020