CPBL to Play Opening Day Without Fans

To prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, on March 23, the CPBL commissioner announced the league would go ahead with the April 11 Opening Day behind closed doors. For the first time since 1990, the CPBL games will be played without fans in empty stadiums. [Opening Day News Tracker]

Although the CPBL announced the no-fan policy, they are still in talks with local officials and the CDC hoping to get a limited number of fans into the game. At this stage, they are aiming at no more than 150 season ticket holders per game.
In order to comply with the Taiwan CDC guideline, the league is prepared to do the following:

  • No more than 150 fans per game (season ticket holders only)
  • Fans to wear masks the whole time
  • Identity verification at the gate
  • Safe distance seating plan
  • No food and drinks vendors at the game
  • Temperature screening at the gate

It will be up to the CDC to decide whether the 150-fan proposal by the CPBL is good enough or not. However, given the current situation with the coronavirus outbreak in the world, the chance of letting fans to attend the games is slim.

As of March 23, there have been a total of 195 confirmed cases of the coronavirus with 28 recovered in Taiwan. Among the 195 confirmed cases, 81% are from overseas.

Update: March 27

On March 27, the CPBL announced the cancellation of the 2020 All-Star Games due to the coronavirus concerns.

Another important factor behind this decision is to give the league more time to complete the season before November. Rumour has it, the Olympics Qualifying tournament is likely to happen around November to December.

According to the CPBL secretary-general, the 2020 season will still go-ahead without fans in empty stadiums on April 11.

Revenues Lost per Game: Between $85K to $167K USD

With the decision to go with the no-fan policy, this makes people wonder, just exactly how much revenues the CPBL teams are turning away per game? According to an article on Liberty Sports, the amount is between $85,000 to $167,000 USD per game.

It is also worth noting since the CPBL teams do not publish their financial figures, there is no way of knowing how much money they are losing per game due to the new policy. The amounts stated above are pure speculations by the media.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I think it would make sense to let some fans into the games and use social distancing to keep them apart. If done properly, I think it might be possible to have as many as 1,000 fans in attendance per game, if the teams spaced them out strictly around the stadium and strictly controlled the way they enter and leave the stadium and going in and out of restrooms. All ticket sales, to the extent that there are more available tickets than season ticket holders, could be conducted on-line.

    I expect that television revenues should be up this year as more people stay at home and need to be entertained. The question is whether CPBL teams are already locked into multi-year contracts that would deliver the profits from an upsurge in viewership to the TV networks, and not the teams.

    Asian baseball teams also have an advantage in this regard, as they are corporate owned, so even if revenues are down, if TV viewership is up, the corporate owners benefit from greater advertising and exposure, so long as the corporations are still in business otherwise.

    • I don’t think each city’s mayor will let fans into the game though. They are essentially putting their political career on the line. I prefer if they do it behind closed doors, better be safe about it.

      TV revenues is probably already locked up on multi-year contact. I think the reason why the league still have no releasing the new season free streaming information is probably they are still in talks with the online platforms.

      Yeah, this no-fan policy will cost the teams money, but it is pocket change to all the teams’ parent company.

  2. Politics and the popular mood have a lot to do with it. Apparently Taiwanese have bought into the idea that they need to stay home and isolate themselves, given how effectively such a densely populated country has managed to avoid a major outbreak. With no vaccine likely to be widely available before March 2021 at the earliest, people are eventually going to go a bit stir crazy. We’ve only been told to stay at home in the San Francisco Bay Area since March 16, and already there are signs of people, including myself, going stir crazy.

    • Being next door to China, Taiwanese are used to facing whatever diseases coming from China over the years.

      Taiwan was hit pretty hard by SARS back in the day, and because we are not allowed to join the WHO due to China’s interference, Taiwanese were pretty much left to fend for themselves. I think during the SARS crisis only the USA and Japan helped us by sharing information.

      Got burnt hard once, that’s why the government is pretty on point with this coronavirus outbreak. They started screening flight coming from China in January. And pretty much do the opposite of what the WHO is saying.

      But again, with this virus outbreak anything can still happen, despite Taiwan is able to keep it under control right now, it will only take one mistake to blow it open.

      Anyway, I hope things are well for you and your family in San Francisco. Stay safe and hopefully MLB will be back soon to provide some entertainment for those in home isolation.

  3. I wonder if the coronavirus could actually be a good thing for the CPBL in the long run. So long as the league plays its games, even in empty stadiums, and TV ratings go up as much as I think they might, it could generate greater interest in the league. In times like these, people need the distraction and normalcy of professional sports. In a time of sickness, it could be very reassuring to watch healthy young athletes show off their physical abilities, along with the tacit message that somehow we’ll all get through this and things will eventually return to normal.

    During World War 2, MLB continued to play a full schedule throughout the war. The U.S. mainland was never significantly attacked, so there wasn’t a siege mentality despite all the rationing and limitations on automobile travel, and President Roosevelt thought it would be good for national morale. Even though 80% of major league stars were in the military by 1944, Americans, including servicemen abroad, still cared about the pennant races. There’s a lot to be said for maintaining at least some familiar things during a time of crisis.

    • I think in the short term, as in new fans exposure and development, the CPBL can definitely benefit from this coronavirus situation. Like you suggested, TV and online broadcast rating would go up. Since there’s no MLB and NPB (Hanshin Tigers’ player tested positive today).

      Maybe after 6 or so months, then it will be up to the individual team’s ability to retain those new fans.

      In the long run, I still believe it is more about giving fans better quality of baseball and most of all, keep the league clean. The league’s public image would be the most important key for new teams and new fans.

      But for now on, I guess the CPBL teams can enjoy all the media attention.

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