The next step in the labor negotiations between players and MLB is now in place, as MLB officially locked out players after the last Collective Bargaining Agreement expired. What does this mean for spring training?
We covered the issue on sister site Ballpark Digest, looking at where things stand and where they are going, if you’re interested in the details. Basically, there really are two questions here: what does this mean for spring training as of right now, and what could this mean for spring training? We’ll look at each.
What does this mean for spring training? Right now, nothing tangible. The business of baseball keeps rolling along. Teams still prep for spring training, making plans and putting tickets on sale. (Most recently: the Milwaukee Brewers put tickets on sale earlier this week.) Those activities will continue, and right now things are pretty much proceeding as they would in a normal spring training. The return to normalcy is a very reassuring status for those both inside and outside the sport. So, as of right now, the lockout is not affecting spring training.
What could this mean for spring training? This is the more problematic question with fewer certain answers. Right now the two sides are quietly negotiating, with plenty of public posturing on both sides. That’s how labor negotiations go these days, and quite honestly the posturing is really only of import to industry insiders.
But, come mid-January, it will be time to pay attention to the negotiations. If the lockout stands, we could see spring training delayed or scrapped. That’s the worst-case scenario right now: that’s the result if negotiations totally stall. It is not a scenario we see happening as of now, to be honest: after a 2020 season shortened by COVID-19 and a 2021 season impacted by COVID-19, there’s tremendous pressure in the baseball industry to return to normalcy in 2022. Impacting spring training would not be a step toward normalcy, generating lots of bad publicity for both sides at the start of the regular season. So we expect a deal, because at the end of the day it’s in everyone’s best interests to run a normal spring training.
If you are concerned about a lockout, there are a few steps to take in your planning process to address the potential issues. First, be sure to make as many parts of your plans as refundable as possible. That means hotel and reservations that can be canceled at the last minute. That means not prepaying car and hotel reservations, even at a cheaper rate. And that means shopping for airfares with minimal impact fees for cancelations or changes.
When it comes to tickets, given that everything is electronic these days, we’d recommend buying tickets knowing they will be automatically refunded if games are canceled, whether you buy them from a team or a third-market reseller like ballparkdigesttickets.com. When a significant chunk of 2020 spring training was canceled, ticket holders automatically received discounts for the canceled games.