The Nationals on Wednesday announced that the team’s annual fundraising gala scheduled for later this month has been postponed in response to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.
“In the best interest of the health and safety of our Washington Nationals players, valued donors and committed fans, we have decided to postpone the Nationals Homecoming Gala at The Anthem at District Wharf scheduled for March 23,” the team said in a statement.
There were 22 coronavirus cases reported in the District, Maryland and Virginia as of Tuesday.
Last year’s sold-out event featured roughly 900 attendees and raised more than $1 million for the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation’s initiatives, including the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. In previous years, the team held its premier fundraising event during the season.
“The event not only offers the opportunity for foundation supporters to engage directly with our players, but also the chance for fans to gather and cheer-on the 2019 World Series Champions, as the coaches and all players on the active roster walk a red carpet,” the statement continued. “These personal interactions are a special part of the annual event, and it is our intention to deliver on this one-of-a-kind experience. In order to do so, the Nationals Homecoming Gala will take place at a future date to be announced as soon as we can responsibly do so. … The coronavirus outbreak gripping the region and the nation is a time for reflection on the needs of our community and the ways we can collaborate to support our neighbors."
An MLB spokesperson said Tuesday that no decision had been made on altering its schedule for the coronavirus, but that it would be moving forward on a team-by-team basis. A source told the Seattle Times that one possibility for the Seattle Mariners, who play their home games in one of the United States’ hardest-hit cities, is to remain at their spring training site in Arizona for their season-opening series.
The Nationals are scheduled to open the regular season on March 26 against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Washington’s home opener is April 2.