Massachusetts and New York have been two of the hardest-hit states in America when it comes to the COVID-19 outbreak, but as they start to get up off the mat, questions about reopening have dominated the political discord.
Professional sports play a part of that conversations, as each city and region is at least somewhat defined by their respective teams. As professional sports leagues search for road maps to safely return, states’ abilities to reopen will be a vital piece of criteria.
So it’s interesting that the governors of both New York and Massachusetts weighed in on the return of pro sports to their respective states in separate press conferences Monday — and just minutes apart.
First, it was New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who declared the Empire State open for sports business — to an extent.
“I also have been encouraging major sports teams to plan reopenings without fans, but the games could be televised. New York State will help those major sports franchises to do just that,” Cuomo said in his press briefing. “Hockey, basketball, baseball, football, whoever can reopen, we’re a ready, willing and able partner.”
Cuomo also went off on a slight tanged about his beloved Buffalo Bills, but personal opinion aside, it was an interesting and emphatic notice about his desire to have sports back in New York.
“Personal disclosure: I want to watch the Buffalo Bills, but I’m still objective,” Cuomo said, slightly tongue in cheek. “I’m acting as governor. There’s no personal agenda here. Yes, I do want to watch the Bills, but that is not subverting my role as governor. I think this is in the best interest of all the people and the best interest in the people of New York even though I have a coincident personal agenda because I want to watch the Bills, but they are separate agendas.”
As for Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker was far more subdued than the gregarious Cuomo, as Baker announced the Bay State’s four-phase “safer at home” plan. As typically has been the case throughout, Baker didn’t offer much in way of details where he didn’t need to, as he addressed a question about professional sports returning to Massachusetts.
“The youth sports stuff is being worked through the reopening advisory board and there are a lot of people who, frankly, gave you guys some really good ideas about how to do this; the professional stuff is running through a different channel,” Baker said.
A reporter asked a follow-up asking Baker whether any sort of decisions had been made about pro sports yet.
“No,” Baker simply stated before turning his attention elsewhere.
It’s worth noting that despite the fact New York was hit harder than Massachusetts, the former has seen bigger drops in the important statistics (cases, positive tests, hospitalizations, deaths) for a longer time than Massachusetts, so it might be misguided to expect Baker’s state to be ready to go when it comes to pro sports. However, Mass. has seemingly followed New York’s timeline fairly close, and sports fans are likely hoping this is a similar situation here.
Boston mayor Marty Walsh made it pretty clear the stands will be empty all summer, but even getting Red Sox baseball back in a vacant Fenway Park would be a nice shot in the arm for anyone hoping to see even a slight resemblance of summer in the months ahead.