NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered a ray of hope to the state’s sports fans on Monday when he said at his daily coronavirus briefing that the state is “ready and willing” to work with its sports teams on playing games without fans in attendance.
New York State is ready and willing to partner with major sports teams that are interested in playing games safely, without fans.
If our professional sports teams can make it work (& be safe) on their end, we’re supportive.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 18, 2020
“Hockey, basketball, baseball, football — whoever can reopen — we’re a ready, willing and able partner,” Cuomo said Monday.
The prospect of starting the season without fans would be a tremendous change in a sport like football, which relies heavily on the cheers, and jeers from the crowd. The Giants’ Saquon Barkley has experienced it at Penn State and in his two NFL seasons.
“It’s just playing ball, kind of like when you were a kid when no one was watching. … For instance, when we have practice, some practices we’d have fans there and have the media there, but most of the time no one is there. It’s just us going at it and getting better every single day. I guess that’s kind of the same approach I would take if that was the case,” Barkley told CBS2’s Otis Livingston.
The announcement from the governor follows remarks over the weekend in which he said that the state’s race tracks for both auto and horse racing could open under the same conditions.
The sports leagues themselves are still working on what their return to play scenarios will look like. While Major League Baseball has reportedly approved an 82-game season with hopes of holding opening day in early-July, plenty of hurdles remain in negotiations.
The same can be said for the NHL, which reports indicate made “significant progress” over the weekend on a potential 24-team playoff format. But, those talks are far from official as well.
The NBA has allowed its teams to return to practice facilities to begin individual workouts in accordance with local public health officials. Several teams have already opened their facilities and it would seem based on Cuomo’s remarks, that the Knicks and Nets may be able to do so soon.