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Calls for the return of U.S. sports leagues from the coronavirus pandemic gained momentum Monday as governors of California, New York and Texas said play could resume without fans in the coming weeks.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state was a “ready, willing and able partner” to help sports leagues with the logistical challenge of safely resuming their seasons. The NBA, NHL and MLB have been on hold since mid-March, when it became impossible for leagues to continue play while adhering to social distancing protocols and shelter-in-place orders.
"I think this is in the best interest of all the people and the best interest of the state of New York,” Cuomo said regarding the return of sports. “And then they’ll be up and running and when we can fill a stadium again, we can fill a stadium.”
The remarks come as New York begins a phased reopening of the state’s economy. The state’s pro sports franchises include MLB’s New York Yankees and New York Mets and the NBA’s Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Cuomo joked about his desire to watch the NFL’s Buffalo Bills this fall.
Speaking at his daily press briefing, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said pro sports could begin in the state by as early as “the first week or so of June.”
Newsom said sports could resume play "without spectators and with modification and very prescriptive conditions,” as long as the public health situation continues to improve.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state would be ready to host sporting events without fans by the end of May.
The NBA, NHL and MLB are in active talks to determine the best way to resume their seasons. MLB owners recently approved a plan to begin the long-delayed 2020 season in early July.
Some sports have already returned to active competition, albeit without crowds. NASCAR held its first race in two months in South Carolina last Sunday, while UFC held a trio of events in Florida earlier this month.