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MLB sues insurance providers over COVID-related losses

Major League Baseball (MLB) and its 30 teams have sued their insurance providers claiming to have lost billions in unsold tickets, among other missed sales, over the 2020 season, which was mostly played behind closed doors due to COVID-19.

The baseball commissioner’s office, MLB’s digital and streaming services, MLB Network and Tickets.com have also joined the lawsuit, which was filed in October in California Superior Court in Alameda County, and was obtained on Friday by the Associated Press news agency.

The lawsuit names insurance providers AIG, Factory Mutual and Interstate Fire and Casualty Company, alleging they have refused to pay claims made by MLB despite the league’s “top-shelf all-risk” policy purchases.

The league said in a statement to the AP: “Due to COVID-19, the Major League Baseball entities, including those of the 30 major league clubs, have incurred significant financial losses as a result of our inability to play games, host fans and otherwise conduct normal business operations during much of the 2020 season.

“We strongly believe these losses are covered in full by our insurance policies, and are confident that the court and jury will agree.”

MLB claims to have lost billions of dollars on unsold tickets, hundreds of millions on concessions, tens of millions on parking and millions more on suites and luxury seat licences, in-park merchandise sales and corporate sponsorships. It also cites over a billion dollars in local and national media losses, plus tens of millions in missed income for MLB Advanced Media.

MLB’s 2020 season, which was due to have commenced on March 26, was postponed and eventually consisted of a 60-game regular season starting in July and leading into the playoffs. Most postseason games were played without fans, though there was a limited capacity of about 11,000 per game for the National League Championship Series and World Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

The lawsuit claims that the coronavirus has led to both physical loss and property damage, adding: “The presence of the coronavirus and COVID-19, including but not limited to coronavirus droplets or nuclei on solid surfaces and in the air at insured property, has caused and will continue to cause direct physical damage to physical property and ambient air at the premises.

“Coronavirus, a physical substance, has attached and adhered to Plaintiffs’ property and by doing so, altered that property. Such presence has also directly resulted in loss of use of those facilities.”

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