Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that professional sports could return in early June without fans.
“Sporting events, pro sports, in that first week or so of June—without spectators and [with] modifications and very prescriptive conditions—can also begin to move forward,” Newsom said.
Newsom said California is changing its criteria for counties that want to reopen. The change would allow 53 of the state’s 58 counties to do so if they can show their hospitalization rates have stabilized and they have a positive COVID-19 test rate below 8%. He did not say which five counties will continue to face stricter restrictions.
Newsom’s decision came the same day Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he will allow professional sports to return on or after May 31 as part of the state’s plan to slowly reopen.
“Each league must submit, along with a request for approval in the manner prescribed by the Department of State Health Services, a plan that incorporates applicable minimum standard health protocols recommended by the Department of State Health Services and such additional measures as are needed to ensure a safe plan for conducting the events.”
The NBA, NHL and MLB continue to mull their options for resuming or starting their seasons amid the coronavirus pandemic. The NHL and NHLPA are reportedly “making progress” on a plan that would allow the 2019–20 season to resume with a 24-team format. Several NBA teams have reopened their facilities for players to voluntarily practice, including the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.
MLB is still assessing how to start its season, which was postponed due to the virus outbreak. Owners approved a proposal last Monday to split the revenue 50/50 with players if the season takes place this summer. However, the MLBPA is expected to reject the proposal, countering with a previous March agreement that would simply prorate player’s salaries based on the number of games played.
The NFL released its 2020 season schedule earlier this month, indicating it plans to start as usual in September.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced on Monday that he would like to see major sports teams reopen without fans. Cuomo did not provide an exact timeline for when this could happen but added games could be televised.