California Governor: Pro sports without fans possible in June

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom announces new criteria related to coronavirus hospitalizations and testing that could allow counties to open faster than the state, during a news conference at Mustards Grill in Napa, Calif., Monday May 18, 2020. Newsom says the new criteria could apply to 53 of the state's 58 counties. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool)

LOS ANGELES — California Gov. Gavin Newsom thinks pro sports could be back playing in his state — without fans — in early June.

The Democratic governor said during a news conference Monday that the state is making good progress against the coronavirus, posting a 7.5% decline in hospitalizations over the last two weeks.

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If the progress continues, he said pro sports could return in the “first week or so of June without spectators and modifications and very prescriptive conditions.”

That is extremely welcome news for California teams that have wondered if they would have to make contingency plans to play elsewhere.

Los Angeles County has become the epicenter for the outbreak in California and Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said she needs to hear details from Newsom about how sports can be safely played.

“I know for all of us we’d be very excited to be able to see our teams starting to get ready to play again,” she said. “I look forward to hearing from the state what the protocols are going to be and the directives to make sure that the activity is able to happen in a way that keeps everybody as safe as possible.”

Major League Baseball and its players association are in negotiations about starting the season around July 1, with spring training to resume either in a team’s ballpark or in Florida or Arizona.

The National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer have allowed practice facilities to reopen for limited workouts. The National Football League announced its schedule two weeks ago and intends on having a complete season. Newsom’s announcement through should clear the way for teams to be able to hold training camp in their home cities.

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The National Hockey League is still assessing its plans.

Newsom’s announcement follows those made by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo that allowed sports to resume. Florida and Arizona earlier this month gave the go ahead for professional sports.

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