Earlier this week it was announced that Florida is willing to be a restart site for professional sports leagues. Like Arizona, the Sunshine State has shown interest in being considered a host when play resumes following shutdowns caused COVID-19.
“One thing I am going to do, probably this week, is all professional sports are welcome here for practicing and for playing,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference Wednesday. “Now, we’re not going to necessarily have fans.”
This statement came shortly after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said that his state is open to games without spectators for all the major sports starting Saturday.
“There’s been reports that Major League Soccer may want to have their season in Orlando. Do it. We want to have you here,” said DeSantis, a Republican like Ducey. “We want to have basketball practicing again. We would love to have Major League Baseball. And I think the message is that our people are starved to have some of this back in their lives. It’s an important part of people’s lives. So we want to be able to do that. I think we can certainly do it in a way that’s been safe.”
Major League Baseball’s regular season has been put on hold since March 26. Half of the 30 teams hold spring training in Florida, and MLB has considered plans in which teams would use their spring training ballparks if they are not allowed to play at their regular-season homes. Talks have been ongoing for starting a baseball season with two host sites (one for Arizona league and one for Florida league).
Florida has successfully held two UFC events in the past seven days, and has more sporting events lined up over the next several weeks. The Miami Heat and Orlando Magic have already started to hold voluntary practice sessions for their players, and all reports state that workouts are going well. Additionally, the NBA is planning to have 20 of their 30 teams active and ready to conduct workouts in their own facilities (New York and California obviously excluded).
“All these professional sports are going to be welcome in Florida. That may not be the case in every other state in this country, as we’ve seen,” DeSantis said. “And so what I would tell commissioners of leagues is: “If you have a team in an area where they just won’t let them operate, we’ll find a place for you here in the state of Florida because we think it’s important and we know it can be done safely.”