David Dudley is the executive editor of CityLab. He is the former editor in chief of Urbanite magazine and a former features editor for AARP: The Magazine.
With the Major League Baseball season on hold, the ballparks of North America hosted no crowds for Opening Day 2020. Here’s a sad photo gallery.
The melancholy spectacle of public spaces minus the public has become — along with the bare supermarket shelf and the mask-wearing pedestrian — one of the defining visual calling cards of the coronavirus crisis. To this gallery of empty plazas and lonely streets and deserted landmarks, we can now add photos of the 15 empty Major League Baseball ballparks that would have hosted games on March 26, Opening Day in North America.
In Queens, New York, not far from a public hospital overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients, the scene outside the Mets’ Citi Field looked like this on Thursday.
Here’s Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field, where the White Sox were scheduled to play the Kansas City Royals.
Baltimore, where I live, had some crisp but glorious Opening Day weather for Opening Day; the Eutaw Street concourse at Camden Yards would have been hazy with barbecue smoke and thronged with O’s fans lining up for pit beef sandwiches.
Baseball fans put a brave face on this stark absence, and the hashtag #OpeningDayAtHome was trending all day. But there’s no getting around the end-times vibe that accompanies the extinguishing of yet another totem of American normalcy, especially on a day in which the United States officially passed China to become the global epicenter of Covid-19.
For many U.S. cities, amenity-packed new baseball stadiums are showpieces of local economic vigor and symbols of downtown resurgence. Emptying these civic stages offers a vivid illustration of the pandemic’s ability to disrupt the workings of urban life, and drain the pleasures from it.
But there is another, more hopeful way of seeing sights such as Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium (above), sitting serenely unpeopled beneath a strangely smogless Southern California sky. As the New York Times’ Michael Kimmelman recently noted, the people that aren’t in these photos are doing the right thing: “Their present emptiness, a public health necessity, can conjure up dystopia, not progress, but, promisingly, it also suggests that, by heeding the experts and staying apart, we have not yet lost the capacity to come together for the common good.”
On March 12, MLB announced that the 2020 season will be delayed at least two weeks. Like some other deadlines that have been floated recently, that is looking improbably optimistic. No further dates have been announced.