NEW YORK — As Major League Baseball made an opening presentation to the players’ union Tuesday on terms to start the coronavirus-delayed season, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker criticized major leaguers for not being willing to cut pay further.
MLB did not made an economic proposal during its opening presentation, a person familiar with the discussion told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no details were announced.
The meeting lasted between three and four hours. An agreement with the players’ association is needed to play ball.
Also Tuesday, Ariz. Doug Ducey said professional sports can be played in his state starting Saturday, but without spectators.
Baseball owners gave their go-ahead to their proposal on Monday, a plan that could lead to the coronavirus-delayed season starting around the Fourth of July weekend in ballparks without fans.
Players agreed March 26 to a deal in which they would be paid a prorated share of salaries based on the portion of the 162-game schedule that is played. As part of the deal, if no games are played they would receive service time for 2020 matching what they earned last year.
Teams will propose that players receive the percentage of their 2020 salaries based on a 50-50 split of revenues MLB receives during the regular-season and post-season, a person familiar with the plan told the AP on Monday, also speaking on condition of anonymity because the plan was not announced. The union views that concept as a salary cap, which it has said it will never agree to.
The average MLB salary is $4.4 million at full price if the season had started on time.
“I realize that the players have the right to haggle over their salaries, but we do live in a moment where the people of Illinois and the people of the United States deserve to get their pastime back, to watch, anyway, on television,” Pritzker said in response to the last question of his news conference.
“If they’re able to come up with safety precautions, as has been suggested by Major League Baseball, that works, I hope that the players will understand that the people of our United States need them to recognize that this is an important part of leisure time that all of us want to have during the summer, to watch them play baseball, to root for our favourite teams,” the Illinois Democrat said. “We need that back, that normalcy back, and I hope they’ll be reasonable as they negotiate. But I must say I’m disappointed in many ways that players are holding out for these very, very high salaries and payments during a time when I think everybody is sacrificing.”
A member of the family that controls Hyatt hotels, Pritzker’s net worth has been estimated by Forbes at $3.4 billion.
The players’ association declined comment on his remarks, spokesman Chris Dahl said.
Players and teams committed in the March deal to “discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators or at appropriate neutral sites.” Union head Tony Clark has said that negotiation is over, and many players have said they already have deal with terms for 2020 and see no need to bargain more.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has said about 40% of MLB revenue is tied to gate, including concessions, parking, ballpark advertising, luxury suites and programs.
Union officials and players have cited the March agreement as setting economic terms and say they have no inclination for additional cuts.
Players are more interested in medical protocols and testing designed to protect them from and detect the new coronavirus.
Ducey announced “Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL, the NFL, MLS are able to participate and play in the state of Arizona after May 15.”
“Of course, this would be with CDC guidelines, and protecting the public health.” the Republican said. “We have had discussions with leaders of some of these leagues and they all know they are welcome to operate, play and perform in the state of Arizona.”.
Associated Press writer Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix contributed to this report.
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Ronald Blum, The Associated Press