President Donald Trump held a conference call with the heads of major sports organizations on Saturday afternoon. NASCAR, the NFL, WWE, UFC, MLB, WNBA, and others were present and involved. The exact topics discussed were not revealed, but Trump reportedly set a timeline for the start of the 2020 NFL season in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sources told ESPN on Saturday afternoon that Trump said the 2020 season should start on time in September. The first game is currently scheduled for Sept. 10 and will potentially feature the defending Super Bowl LIV champions in the Kansas City Chiefs. Trump reportedly also said that he hopes to have fans back in attendance in stadiums and arenas in either August or September. It is unclear if medical experts find this timeline to be realistic due to COVID-19.
"They want to get back. They've got to get back. We want to get back soon. Very soon," Trump said of the conference call, per NFL Media's Judy Battista.
The NFL has not been as heavily impacted as the other leagues considering that the league is currently in the offseason. Pro days for upcoming draft picks have been canceled, and the 2020 NFL Draft has been moved to a virtual setting. However, the games have not been postponed or canceled in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump also raised the idea of the leagues working together to lobby for tax credits that used to exist for entertainment expenses, such as the ability to deduct concessions and tickets from taxes, sources said. That would be a way for leagues to jump-start fans' ability to return to stadiums in a difficult economy.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has since responded to the president's urging. According to Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic, Newsom said that California would not feel comfortable reopening stadiums until we "have the appropriate community surveillance and testing" to identify who's infected. He does not expect this to happen in the "next few months" leading to the start of the NFL season.0comments
A White House pool report revealed that the call included 12 major sports commissioners and top executives from the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL, Major League Soccer, WNBA, WWE, the PGA Tour, LPGA, UFC, IndyCar, and Breeders' Cup. These commissioners were forced to make the decisions to halt or postpone their events in light of the coronavirus outbreak. The NBA led the way by suspending all operations on March. 11.
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