New York asks major sports leagues to open season without fans, Gov. Cuomo says

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s asked major league sports teams to start planning to reopen or start their seasons without fans, adding that the state is willing to help. 

“New York state will help those major sport franchises to do just that,” Cuomo said at his daily news briefing. “Hockey, basketball, baseball, football, whoever can reopen we’re a ready, willing and able partner.”

While the stadiums aren’t allowed to have fans, he said the games could still be televised. Cuomo said he believes whether sports franchises choose to return will depend on if they’re able to make money without fans, which is a sport-by-sport determination. 

“I think this is in the best interest of all the people and in the best interest of the state of New York,” Cuomo said. “And then they’ll be up and running and when we can fill a stadium again, we can fill a stadium.”

“But why wait until you can fill a stadium before you start to bring the team back? And if you can televise it in the meantime, great,” he said. 

Cuomo added that he’s been watching the old games currently televised but would rather watch new ones. President Donald Trump called into an NBC Sports’ live broadcast of a golf tournament this weekend and said he’s “getting a little tired of watching 10-year-old golf tournaments.” 

Cuomo said he’d personally like to watch the Buffalo Bills of the NFL play.

“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.” 

Major League Baseball officials previously told CNBC that they are continuing discussions with the players’ union on a plan that outlines steps to start the 2020 regular season, which was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Associated Press reported team owners signed off May 11 on a proposal that said clubs would resume spring training programs in June to prepare for a July start to the season.

The National Football League released its upcoming schedule in early May, which indicated the league fully intends to start its next season in September, despite current lockdown orders across the U.S. 

Though the NBA hinted at resuming its season in cities like Orlando, Florida, or Las Vegas, decisions regarding cites for NFL and MLB games are still being discussed while plans are still emerging about a possible 24-team format for restarting the NHL. But the odds favor New York, as the NFL and MLB appear dedicated to playing games in home stadiums without spectators 

New York is working toward reopening regions of the state in phases. Cuomo said that a sixth region in Western New York will begin phase one of the state’s reopening plan on Tuesday. All of the regions that have been allowed to reopen so far have been in the upstate and central part of New York. 

New York City has only met three of the seven criteria needed to begin a phased reopening. 

Phase one of the state’s reopening plan would allow retail stores to offer curbside or in-store pickup and for manufacturing and construction work to resume. Entertainment and recreational activities wouldn’t be allowed until phase four of the reopening plan. 

— CNBC’s Jabari Young contributed to this report. 

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