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Cuomo: New York sports teams can start planning for returning without fans

Professional sports teams in America are figuring out plans for returning to action. New York’s governor is encouraging his state’s teams to prepare for no fans sooner than later.

A general view of Yankee Stadium following the cancelation of the MLS home opener for New York City FC against FC Dallas due the COVID-19 pandemic. Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

States are starting to implement phased re-openings during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is implicating the ability for professional sports to return to action. On Monday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo held his regular Covid-19 update press conference on Monday, and he said he is encouraging pro sports teams to plan their reopenings without fans.

“I have also 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. Hockey, basketball, baseball, football, whoever, can reopen — we’re a ready, willing, and able partner.

“Personal disclosure, I wanna watch the Buffalo Bills, but I’m still objective. I’m acting as governor — there’s no personal agenda here. Yes, I do want to watch the Bills, but that is not subverting my role as governor. I think this is in the best interest of all the people, and in the best interest of the state of New York.”

New York is slowly re-opening on a regional approach. Buffalo is in the region that has reached six of the seven metrics for re-opening. New York City is through three of the seven requirements, which is the lowest in the state.

For purposes of re-opening, the Knicks, Nets, Rangers, New York Red Bulls and New York FC suspended play mid-season, while the Yankees and Mets were in the middle of spring training, and the Liberty were looking at a May start.

If spring training resumes in Florida, it buys more time for the baseball teams to be ready to return in NYC. For the Rangers, if the NHL skips to a 24-team playoff, they’d be participating, while if the league went to a more traditional format, they’d see their season end if the league goes straight to the playoffs. For the NBA, the Nets are in the playoff hunt, while the Knicks are not going to make the playoffs. There is no word yet on a start date for the WNBA or a restart for MLS.