New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the green light for sports teams to begin their respective training camps on Sunday, ushering what seemed to be another monumental step in the return of athletics.
“Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps. I believe sports can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena,” he said. “Do it! Do it! Work out the economics if you can. We want you up.”
“We want people to be able to watch sports to the extent people are still staying home. It gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy. So we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible, and we’ll work with them to make sure that can happen.”
The announcement came roughly one week after the governor encouraged teams to start planning a return to action with no fans in attendance as the state inches toward reopening from the COVID-19 shutdown.
While Cuomo’s declaration that a return to training is available is promising, it’s also exceptionally hollow outside of Major League Baseball.
In the NFL, the Giants and Jets play and train in New Jersey and would be subject to the state’s regulations.
In the NBA, the Knicks training facility in Westchester is still closed until further notice while the Nets are set to open their facility at HSS Training Center in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
When basketball does return — possibly in late July — there won’t be any games being played in New York, anyway, as the league is nearing an agreement to play the remainder of its season at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL.
For the Islanders and Rangers, the NHL released a 22-page memorandum on Monday morning outlining the process for teams to return to club facilities in early-June, though no concrete date has been set as of yet. Regardless, no competitive games will be played in New York.
The NHL’s 24-team expanded postseason tournament to jump into when play starts back up will be played in two hub cities — one site for the Eastern Conference playoffs and the other for the Western Conference. Earlier reports tabbed nine or 10 cities have volunteered to act as host sites, but New York was not one of them considering the state is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
Cuomo’s remarks are most promising for baseball, though, in that it offers the hope that both the Mets and Yankees can play in their home games in their respective stadiums without fans if the regular season starts up this summer.
MLB’s proposed 2020 season plan accepted by league owners two weeks ago included teams playing in their empty home ballparks. But those in heavily impacted areas like the Mets and Yankees could have been relocated to spring-training sites or other MLB parks.
The governor’s green light suggests that there will be baseball at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium this summer if the owners and players can agree on a compensation plan, but it remains to be seen if both teams will return to the Big Apple for the perceived mid-June spring training or train in the less-impacted Florida.