NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Has Encouraged Teams to Plan to Play Without Fans

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo briefs the media during a coronavirus news conference at his office in New York City, Saturday, May 9, 2020.  (John Roca/New York Post via AP, Pool)
John Roca/Associated Press

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday morning he's been encouraging sports franchises in the state to resume playing, with restrictions, if their leagues reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I also have been encouraging major sports teams to plan reopenings without fans. But the games could be televised, New York state will help those major sports franchises to do just that," he said. "Hockey, basketball, baseball, football—whoever can reopen, we're a ready, willing and able partner. Personal disclosure: I want to watch the Buffalo Bills."

NBC News @NBCNews

NY Gov. Cuomo says he has encouraged major sports teams in the state to plan on playing without fans; says the state will assist in planning. https://t.co/uErySbbtUH

Cuomo further elaborated on those remarks, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic:

Mike Vorkunov @MikeVorkunov

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo invited the return of sports today: "If they can make the numbers work, I say great. Come back. The state will work with you... Why wait until you can fill a stadium before you start to bring a team back? If you can televise it in the meantime, great." https://t.co/ARA0bqQXZb

While the NBA, NHL and MLS have remained on hiatus—and Major League Baseball has delayed the start of its season—some sports have resumed in recent weeks. In the United States, those have included the UFC and NASCAR. Globally, South Korea's KBO (baseball) and Germany's Bundesliga (soccer) have resumed. 

Given the degree in which the United States has been hit by the coronavirus, however—with 1,491,547 confirmed cases and 89,666 deaths, per CNN.com—it remains a question mark how team sports will proceed. Will leagues attempt to host their games in one centralized location or a few locations, quarantining the players, coaching staffs and potentially families? Or will they proceed as before, with full travel to various cities?

One of the sticking points in the latter option was whether areas most severely affected by the coronavirus would be open to having sporting events, even without fans. Governor Cuomo appears willing to let those events proceed in the state. 

But California Governor Gavin Newsom has been more skeptical of how the return of team sports will function even without fans in attendance, per Wes Goldberg of The Mercury News:

"It's difficult for me to imagine what the league and, broadly, leagues, do when one or two of their key personnel or players have tested positive. Do they quarantine the rest of the team? If an offensive lineman is practicing with a defensive lineman, and they have tested positive, what happens to the rest of the line? What happens to the game coming up the next weekend? It's inconceivable to me that that's not a likely scenario."

But on Monday, Newsom did open up the possibility of sports without fans being played in the state come June:

So it's a fluid and uncertain situation, even as fans clamor for the return of leagues like the NBA, NHL and MLB, among others.