As professional sports leagues around the country are on hold while public health officials deal with the coronavirus, President Trump sets a hopeful date for when fans can return to games.
On a conference call on Saturday with twelve major sports commissioners, including Rob Manfred from Major League Baseball, President Trump expressed hope to have fans back in stadiums and arenas by August and September.
The MLB season has been on hold since Spring Training was suspended and the season delayed in mid-March. MLB and the Players Association have been working closely together to provide financial assistance to both major league and minor league players, while they work out the details for potentially playing a compressed schedule over the final months of the summer.
Several ideas have been floated about what a season could look like in the event that it is not canceled all together. The possibility of playing in front of empty stadiums has been gaining traction as an avenue to start games before public health officials are ready to allow fans to gather in large public settings; however, there are concerns over whether it would be practical to even do that.
Given the timeline proposed by the President, it is possible to envision a scenario where baseball returns in July in front of empty stadiums, allowing them to start a schedule which allows them to play as many as 100 games through the middle of October, with fans returning to venues in August.
Speaking to the commissioners, the President also brought up the idea of leagues working together to lobby for tax credits, similar to what used to exist to deduct the purchase of tickets and concessions, as a way to motivate fans to return to stadiums during difficult economic conditions.
Starting with the NBA, professional sports leagues were some of the first major businesses to shut their doors in response to the coronavirus. President Trump is excitement over the idea of these same leagues leading the way in returning to normal activities once public health officials believe it is safe to do so.
Meanwhile, MLB scouts have been given greater flexibility in contacting players ahead of the draft. Scouts can now reach out to players to solicit or purchase video and data from games played before March 27. The 2020 Draft, originally scheduled or June, will take place sometime in July, although likely with only five rounds.