Major League Baseball owners approved a proposal Monday requiring teams to share 50% of their revenue with the Major League Baseball Players Association should plans to play this year proceed, three people with direct knowledge of the proposal told USA TODAY Sports.
The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were unauthorized to discuss details, said the historic revenue-sharing plan is integral in order to to address revenue losses with an 82-game season being played without fans beginning in July. MLB officials say that teams are expected to lose about 40% of their gross revenue from ticket sales, concessions and parking.
The proposal is expected to be rejected by the players, who are fearful owners would then push to implement a salary cap during negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expires Dec. 1, 2021. The players’ compensation has never been tied to club revenues.
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This is the first time MLB clubs would be willing to share revenue with players during the regular season, although it exists in the three other major team sports. In the NFL, players get 47% of the revenue, and in the NBA players receive between 49% and 51% based on expected income.
MLB, the only major sport without a salary cap, has shared its postseason revenues with players. MLB provides financial data with the union, but does not share details of any of their TV deals.
The proposal was initially shared with owners Thursday, revised Friday with owners on their executive committee and was voted on Monday, according to two of the people. The proposal is expected to be submitted to the union Monday evening.
The union has balked at the idea that players should take an additional pay cut since they will lose about half of their annual salary with the season being reduced to 82 regular-season games. They agreed to be paid on a pro-rated basis in their previous agreement on March 26, which granted players a full year of service time if no season is played.
The owners’ proposal also outlines details on scheduling, with the likely postponement of the All-Star Game, which was scheduled July 14 at Dodger Stadium, two of the people told USA TODAY Sports.
Training camps, as previously reported by USA TODAY Sports, will begin in June with an opening day set July 1-4. Teams will have the option of hosting spring training 2.0 at their home facilities or at their spring-training complexes in Arizona and Florida, with the hope that all teams can stage games at their own home ballparks during the season.
According to the two people, the traditional two-league- six-division structure will remain, but teams will only play opponents in their division and the corresponding geographical division from the other league. So a team such as the New York Yankees would play only against their AL East opponents and the NL East, while a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who weren’t scheduled to play the Houston Astros, now would play them at least six times.
The owners have also agreed to expand the postseason from 10 teams to 14 teams, adding an extra wild-card round, the two people said.
The active rosters are expected to be expanded from 26 players to 30, with a 20-man taxi squad consisting mostly of an organization’s top minor-league players being available all season.
If teams are unable to play in their home ballparks, at least at the outset of the season, they could choose to share a major-league facility with another team or play at their own spring-training complex. Yet, the preference by all owners is that the games, even with no fans, are staged at their own ballparks.
MLB initially was strongly considering extending the season through Thanksgiving weekend, playing regular-season games through most of October, but with a fear of a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall, believe it would be safer finish the season no later than the first week of November.
MLB cautions that their plan remains fluid with the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring the approval of health experts and governmental officials.