Florida Governor opens up state to pro sports teams

(Credit: Getty Images)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced that the state is open to all professional sports teams in the United States who want to resume action amid the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“All these professional sports are going to be welcome in Florida,” DeSantis said in a news conference. “That may not be the case in every other state in the country, as we’ve seen. So what I would tell commissioners of teams 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.’ We think it’s important and we know it can be done safely.”

Earlier this week, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey also gave the green light for pro sports to return without fans in the state from May 16, provided Covid-19 health and safety measures are adopted.

Sports has already resumed in Florida to a degree. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is holding three events in Jacksonville this week.

Meanwhile there will be two charity golf events in the state this month. “Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Charity”, which features Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and will take place on May 24 at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound.

That event will be preceded by a week by the “TaylorMade Driving Relief”, which will pit Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and rising star Matthew Wolff in a charity skins event at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach.

Meanwhile, Major League Soccer is reportedly planning a mini-tournament in June-July featuring all 26 teams at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

According to ESPN, this will include a five-game group stage followed by a knockout phase, with potentially a place in the Concacaf Champions League for the winner. There will also be “consolation games” for teams to who do not make the knockout stage to make sure all teams play the same number of matches.

The spectator-less event would require over 1,000 total participants – including players, coaches and support staff – who would live under quarantine and receive regular coronavirus health tests. It is hoped that there would be multiple games staged every day, which would be carried by ESPN.

The proposed tournament, which would be preceded by a training camp, remains firmly in the planning stages, however.

Orlando has also been considered as a potential regional hub for the National Basketball Association, while Florida could also serve a regional competition base for Major League Baseball.