Spending a majority of my week commuting and sitting in traffic made me wonder what the travel accommodations are like across the major North American sports. What is mandatory in each league? What kind of standards are there for lodging and travel accommodations? I came to find that each league has different sets of rules for how each team should travel, how each team should lodge their players, and how much meal money the players are entitled to.
What are the requirements for team travel across the MLS, NBA, and MLB? I first looked at the MLB. The MLB has multiple stipulations attached to its CBA on mode and class of travel. The MLB mandates that all teams provide their players with first class airfare. Teams are required to travel via plane if the distance between two cities is more than 200 miles one way. If under extraordinary circumstances where flying has been made impossible, travel between cities over 200 miles via bus is permissible. In cases where first class air travel cannot be accommodated, and players are forces to fly coach, teams shall provide three seats for every two players as well as first class meals. MLB teams are also required to provide travel accommodations for players outside of the regular season. At the conclusion of the season, the team is required to provide first class flights and meals to players traveling back home. They are also required to do the same for players traveling to the team’s spring training location.
Similarly, the NBA also requires teams to provide first class travel accommodations when a trip exceeds one hour of travel time. Unlike the MLB however, there is a set penalty for teams that do not abide by this provision. The NBA will fine any team $5,000 for willfully violating that clause. The MLS does not require first class travel for their players and only requires regular commercial carriers when a trip exceeds 250 miles. When flying, teams are to “use reasonable effort” to make all flights direct and to provide window and aisle seats for their players. One difference I noticed between the MLB and the MLS is how they determine the distance between two cities. The MLB states that air travel will be required when the distance between two cities is 200 miles or more via direct highway route. The MLS calculates the distance between cities by measuring from one city’s airport to the other’s.
I also looked at the lodging requirements for the MLB, MLS, and NBA. The MLB requires that the team provide single rooms for every member of the active roster as well as injured players traveling with the team. The MLB CBA does not prohibit teams from making agreements with players for even more favorable lodging. The NBA also requires teams to provide single rooms for its players. However, the NBA has more requirements in its CBA for hotel accommodations than the MLB. The NBA CBA states that all teams are to provide their best effort to have porters collect the players’ bags when they arrive, to have the team stay in first class hotels, and that each room have extra long beds. Again, like the travel accommodations, the NBA will fine teams $5,000 for willfully violating that clause of the CBA. The MLS differs from the NBA and MLB by requiring teams to room no more than two players together. The MLS also does not allow teams free reign in choosing their hotels while on the road. The MLS CBA lists a few pre-approved hotel choices.