Three major steps took three major steps forward in their efforts to return to professional sports on Monday.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, followed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Texas Gov. Greg Abbot, all announced today that pro sports were allowed to return – albeit with no fans – in the coming weeks.
Cuomo, whose state has been hit the hardest by COVID-19, said he is open to all sports returning the first week of June.
“I have been encouraging major sports teams to plan re-openings without fans but the games could be televised,” Cuomo said in a news briefing on Monday. “New York State will help those major sports franchises do just that. Hockey, basketball, baseball, football, whoever, can reopen.
“We are a ready, willing and able partner.”
Then, Newsom followed it up with an announcement of his own, adding that pro sports will be allowed to return in California “in that first week or so of June” with no fans, with Abbot announcing professional sports in Texas would be allowed to resume starting May 31 not long after.
“The professional sporting events may not have spectators physically present on the premises,” Texas’ minimum standard health protocols statement reads. “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 state of California has 18 franchises spanning across the MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, and NHL, with New York and Texas having 12 and 10 teams each, respectively. When you combine those numbers with auto racing, golf, tennis, and horse racing championships and events, it’s fairly obvious how significant this move is for each state and the immediate future of professional sports as a whole.
This comes after Florida made the decision to host various UFC and wrestling events in recent weeks, along with anything else willing to compete in the state. North Carolina and South Carolina are slowly easing NASCAR events into play – the first returned on Sunday at Darlington – while Arizona also announced they were prepared to move forward with professional events last week.
UFC, NASCAR, golf, and horse racing are already back. Will the NBA, MLB, and NHL follow suit in the near future?