As we reported on Saturday, President Donald Trump held a conference call with all major-league sports commissioners to discuss the nations’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the call, President Trump laid out a rough timeline for the return of sports.
The White House released an official statement following the call with league commissioners:
Donald Trump also told commissioners that he hopes to have fans back in stadiums and arenas by August and September, sources said, though it is currently unclear if medical experts find that to be a realistic timeline amid the current coronavirus pandemic. https://t.co/EFqDryGlTQ
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 4, 2020
In another press conference held later on Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom stated that he does not expect normal NFL or college football games to be played in front of full stadiums in the state of California later in the year.
“I’m not anticipating that happening in this state,” Newsom said according to SF Gate. “We’ve all seen the headlines over the last couple days in Asia where they opening up certain businesses and now they’re starting to roll back those openings because they’re starting seeing some spread and there’s a boomerang. One has to be very cautious here, one has to be careful not to overpromise.”
“I would move very cautiously in that expectation,” Newsom said. “Our decision on that basis here in the State of California will be determined by the facts, will be determined by the health experts, will be determined by our ability to meet this moment and bend the curve … Right now I’m just focusing on the immediate, but that’s not something I anticipate happening in the next few months.”
The governor did not address the potential of playing games without fans, but the NFL’s chief medical officer has stated that even this scenario would not be possible until players, coaches and essential personnel could all be tested regularly.
If NHL games are to fully resume with fans in the stands, one can safely assume that the actual return timeline will be heavily based on the recovery of the hardest hit NHL markets, two of them being New York and California.
However, games without fans in the stands could likely begin much sooner, if the NHL is interested in going that route. One could also envision a hybrid response, where the 2019-2020 season in concluded in a modified format (no fans in stands, or centralized sites deemed safe), then the 2020-2021 season played under traditional circumstances (fans in stands)