There remain logistical hurdles to the return of sports that extend beyond political borders, but it’s always been the case that states actually permitting the return of sports was a significant hurdle.
Today, in addition to New York’s announcement that it is open to, and indeed encourages, the return of pro sports (without fans), two of the other largest states in the country have announced that they are open to pro sports returning soon.
Texas will be opening up May 31 for pro sports:
Here is Texas Governor Greg Abbott announcing the return of of youth sports camps, little league and pro sports on May 31, 2020 pic.twitter.com/MEopcbhl2l
— Anthony Geronimo (@ATXANT10) May 18, 2020
Given Texas’s attitude throughout this process, and relatively low case load compared to other hot spots, the ability for pro sports to return by June is not necessarily a surprise. But it’s an announcement.
The much bigger and more consequential surprise comes out of California, where I really did not see this coming today:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state could see pro sports return by the first week of June without fans. pic.twitter.com/j4PPg56Yn7
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) May 18, 2020
Because California has been among the more restrictive states in battling COVID-19 (and has done so successfully, I should add), there have been all kinds of hints and indications from the Governor that pro sports may NOT be coming back any time soon, even without fans. So this announcement today is really surprising to me, and it makes me wonder about what has gone on behind the scenes, and also what the state’s level of confidence is in the trend lines look good on the virus and on testing.
Whatever the reason, California permitting pro sports, without fans, as soon as June is a really significant bit of news as it relates to baseball. The announcement would mean California teams, if they prefer, would be able to being Spring Training II at their home parks instead of having to relocate to Arizona (and possibly play regular season games there, too).
Together with New York – as well as Arizona and Florida – many of the largest states in the country are now open for pro sports to return, assuming those leagues deem it safe to do so (and can reach an agreement with their players). It isn’t a lock that all other states that host pro teams will follow suit, but there is certainly going to be pressure to do so (and now a baked-in excuse if it doesn’t go well). Indeed, it’s probably not a coincidence that three large states like New York, California, and Texas all dropped this announcement on the same day.