President Donald Trump expressed hope that fans will be able to attend games by August or September during a conference call today with commissioners of several leagues, according to Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Trump also said the NFL should be able to start its season on time, although the authors add that it’s not clear if medical experts agree with the timeline.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver noted that the sports leagues were the first major U.S. enterprises to shut down and would like to be leaders in restarting the economy once public health officials provide an “all clear” signal. The NBA was the first professional league to suspend play, making the announcement March 11.
A return to normalcy by late summer would come too late for the NBA to have any hope of finishing its season in front of crowds, but the league has discussed holding a few regular season games and possibly an abbreviated playoff format in empty arenas.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press conference today that he’s not optimistic about the NFL starting on time in his state, according to Eric Ting of SFGate.
“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 (to see) some spread and there’s a boomerang,” Newsom said. “One has to be very cautious here, one has to be careful not to overpromise.”
Also during the call, Trump suggested that the leagues should work together to lobby for the return of tax credits that used to be given for entertainment expenses, sources tell Schefter and Wojnarowski. Those credits, which include some deductions for concessions and tickets, could make it easier for fans to attend games while the economy works its way through the current downturn.
Along with the NBA and NFL, the call included executives from Major League Baseball, the NHL, Major League Soccer, WNBA, WWE, the PGA Tour, UFC, IndyCar, LPGA and Breeders’ Cup.