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Major Sports League Can Plan to Reopen Without Fans: Cuomo

Yankee Stadium (Groupe Canam, Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0)

May 18, 2020 By Michael Dorgan 

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that New York’s major league sports teams can get back up and running– although without spectators.

The governor said the state will help sports franchises reopen if they can make it economically viable to do so under the condition.

“Hockey, basketball, baseball, football, whoever can reopen, we‘re a ready, willing and able partner,“ Cuomo said at a press briefing in Buffalo Monday.

Major sports leagues across the country have suspended or postponed their seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, sports teams are looking to get back on the playing field as key COVID-19 indicators decline, and government restrictions ease.

The governor has been encouraging major sports teams to plan on reopening without fans but it will ultimately be their own decision, he said.

He said that some sports leagues can generate enough revenue from TV without relying on gate receipts from fans to operate.

“They have to make their own economic decision whether that economic model works for them,” he said.

Under current state guidelines, sports teams would be prevented from operating because their staff are not considered essential workers.

However, Cuomo said he is willing to work with teams to prepare for a return. He said teams would need to go through a ramp-up phase anyway and believes they can now begin this process.

This would make the transition phase of allowing fans inside stadiums easier, governor said.

The governor is eager to kick start the economy as the state budget deficit has swelled to $61 billion.

“I think this is in the best interest of all the people and in the best interest in the state of New York,” Cuomo said.

The move follows the announcement Saturday that horsing racing tracks will be permitted to reopen without fans starting June 1.

The Watkins Glen International auto-race track in Schuyler can also open from June 1 without spectators.

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