CLEARWATER, Fla. — What started out as a week full of anticipation has quickly become a series of widespread cancellations.
As a result of Major League Baseball suspending spring training, some fans are leaving Florida with concerns over COVID-19 trumping the desire to stick around and soak up the sun.
“Families from all across the states came to meet up for the final two weeks before the season starts and they’re just bummed,” said Sue Kloosterman, a Barrie, Ontario, native, describing her interactions with fellow hotel guests.
According to Kloosterman, the hotel where she is staying is down 40 percent occupancy since spring training cancellations.
Among those who are opting to prioritize staying home are the groups that elected to cancel their trips entirely upon learning of the MLB’s decision to postpone until further notice. The Tampa Bay Times has reported several cancellations of flights and vacations.
“She did say when they checked in, they said people were phoning and canceling the reservations at the hotel because they weren’t coming now,” added Kloosterman about her earlier conversation with a baseball fan.
Concerns beyond physical well-being include fears over refunds for tickets, particularly regarding those who purchased through third-party sites.
“We’re just worried, we got our tickets through StubHub, and they said we’ll get a full refund, but we’ll see if that happens or not,” said Rob Dupuy, a Phillies fan disappointed with this week’s events.
StubHub’s official refund policy as per their website reads as follows: “Our policy is to provide a full refund with fees if an event is canceled.”
As of Thursday evening, the Florida Department of Health claimed the number of confirmed residential and non-residential cases in the state stood at 51.
With multiple new cases being confirmed daily, expectations are cancellations may continue into the regular season.
“There are some disappointed people, but you know what, everywhere. I mean Disney World is closing and we just saw on the news that Busch Gardens is staying open for now, but they might be closing it.
So, I mean, it’s not going to be just baseball fans, it is going to be a lot of people,” said Kloosterman.