2020 MLB Season: Use Solar Panels, Not Cardboard Fans

Without fans, baseball has a golden opportunity to go green with solar panels filling the seats and offsetting costs of production for the 2020 MLB season.

At this point, we have all heard the creative and hopeful ideas being tossed around about how to get the 2020 MLB season started. As we hunger for the sights and sounds of the world’s best athletes competing on live television, we look for places where we can find some semblance, some shred of competitive action.

E-Sports and the MLB player’s league kept us busy. Maybe you downloaded Out of the Park Baseball 21 to fill the void where your fantasy team used to be. Or, maybe you have given up on human sports and moved on to turtle racing. Either way, you still thirst for a glass of competition while seated comfortably away from the playing field.

Now, the KBO and CPBL is there to scratch the itch we all so desperately need to be scratched… if you can get up at 5 AM that is. If you’ve tuned in or paid any attention to this form of baseball being played on the other side of the planet, then you have seen or heard of the cardboard cut-outs of fans filling the stands for aesthetic appeal.

This artificial atmosphere is funny, a little creepy, and mostly useless. Have you ever seen one of those plastic owls that sit on top of a building to scare away other birds? It’s kind of like that.

The first time you see it you think, “Whoa, is that an owl?” The second time you see it you think, “Oh, there’s that plastic owl.” These cardboard super fans aren’t scaring away any birds and they aren’t pumping up any baseball players either.

Those cardboard fans are not paying customers and if the baseball, god willing, returns for some portion of the 2020 MLB season, stadiums will most likely be empty. Here’s a much better idea:

With all that missing ticket revenue, why not make some money back by generating electricity from the sun?

Think back to a hot, sunny day game at the ballpark when you were just roasting in the stands. You didn’t even give one thought to the ice-cream in an upside-down souvenir baseball helmet because you knew it would be soup by the time you sat back down. If you were a solar panel and not a paying customer, you would have taken up, let’s say 6 seats and generated a bunch of storable energy that would easily offset the costs of keeping the lights on.

I’m sure there is a lot to power, even without fans, in the stadium. The broadcast booths, cameras, and the lights for night games are just some of the important items.

You may say to yourself, “Solar panels couldn’t power all that stuff, it’s not worth it.” Okay, but what if solar energy just powered the lights?

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It can’t be cheap to keep those huge, bright lights on all night and MLB franchises do have the money to front the cost of installing solar panels and the necessary storage systems. I would imagine that if 1 portion of the upper deck alone were converted to solar panels, the lights would be fully powered by solar, renewable energy.

Who knows, maybe the money saved will be such a surprise to owners, there will no longer be an upper deck full of fans. As if there ever were. According to Baseball-Reference the average attendance per game at Camden Yards in 2019 was a mere 16,146 fans in a stadium that could fit nearly 46,000 people. I would say there’s some room to work with there.

You might also ask, “What if my team makes it into the playoffs and those seats suddenly go for $1000 a pop?” It would be fairly simple to place panels across the seats and remove them come playoff time. Just don’t get your hopes up of that needing to happen in Camden Yards anytime soon.

Next: 2020 MLB Season: Simulating AL games, May 11-14

The fact is, most MLB stadiums are too big as it is, and as we all try to wrap our minds around what the 2020 season could look like, let’s try to think more creatively about the future. In a time where baseball teams are hiring analysts to save money in the long run, keep the team efficient and pay close attention to the bottom line, here’s an opportunity to save some dough. Although I’d like to be one of those analysts paid by an MLB team one day, this one they can have for free.