Sports teams that can play games without fans should do so in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday, saying having games as TV-only events is better than nothing at all.
Cuomo was in Buffalo on Monday, the home of the Bills football team and Sabres hockey team. Kim Pegula, the co-owner of both teams, sits on Cuomo’s economic re-opening task force, along with representatives of the New York Yankees, New York Mets, New York Knicks, New York Liberty, and Brooklyn Nets.
"If they [the teams] can make the numbers work, I say great,” Cuomo said. “The state will work with you.”
Major sporting leagues have suspended operations during the coronavirus pandemic in order to prevent the spread of the virus. But Major League Baseball, as well as the National Basketball Association, are exploring ways of returning to play, most likely without fans in attendance.
The options will likely include some form of social distancing guidelines in place to protect non-player staff, including grounds crew and clubhouse attendants, as well as support staff for broadcasting the games.
Sporting events would further add a somewhat truncated return to normalcy as COVID cases decline.
"Whoever can reopen, we are encouraging," Cuomo said. "We're a ready, and willing, able partner."
Teams receive revenue from in-game ticket sales, concessions, and parking as well as from broadcasting and cablecasting the games.
"I'm watching the reruns of the old games now, and that's fun,” Cuomo said, “but I'd rather watch current sports."
New York, meanwhile, is beginning “phase one” of reopening its economy in parts of upstate New York for the construction and manufacturing sectors, as well as retail stores for curbside pickup.
That phase is expected to start in western New York and the Capital Region this week.
Cuomo on Saturday said New York officials have authorized horse racing at 11 tracks in New York, plus motor sports at Watkins Glen International speedway, to begin by June 1.