Baseball will return downtown, with Toledo serving as Detroit's 'taxi squad'

TOLEDO (WTVG) - Not much has gone to plan around Fifth Third Field this year and with a minor league season looking more and more in doubt there's a new twist. A good one, baseball will return to the downtown ballpark.

The Tigers will send their taxi squad to Toledo when the short 60 game season begins in a month. The taxi squad is a group of players who will standby in case they are needed. Tigers players could suffer injuries or test positive for COVID-19.

“We’ve had a longstanding relationship with the Tigers and their leadership team, and have been discussing this arrangement for several weeks,” said Joe Napoli, Toledo Mud Hens president and CEO. “Toledo is very excited to assist the Tigers and host team personnel as Major League Baseball (MLB) returns to play.”

This will be a big benefit to Toledo. Not only the Mud Hens, but business around the stadium that in most seasons benefit from fans eating dinner or enjoying a beverage before or after a game.

The organization will have a chance to recoup some of it's financial loss, the pandemic has come at a very bad time for baseball. Organizations like the Mud Hens bought items to sell in their souvenir shops well before COVID-19 spread across the country. None of that merchandise is selling anywhere close to a typical rate. That's just one example of how a minor league organization spends money to prepare for a season. On top of that, there aren't any ticket sales. It's a massive problem.

“As plans become finalized and the players arrive in Toledo, we hope fans will be able to watch the workouts and intrasquad scrimmages,” said Toledo Mud Hens General Manager, Erik Ibsen. “We will share those plans as soon as they become finalized. We are working with ProMedica, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department and the State of Ohio to implement the necessary safety protocols set forth by the Governor’s office.”