IN BRIEF Texas to allow some fans at pro sports events
Texas will soon allow outdoor pro sports events to have spectators, but the numbers will be strictly limited, under a new order Thursday from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
Abbott revised a decision to let pro sports leagues host events without fans starting in June as part of the state’s move to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Abbott’s new order allows outdoor stadiums to host fans up to 25% of their normal capacity. Leagues will have to apply to state health officials to be allowed to have fans. Indoor events will still be without spectators.
The change came the same day Texas reported a one-day high in new cases with 1,855 reported Thursday. Texas now has 59,776 confirmed cases through nearly 990,000 viral and coronavirus antibody tests. It has 1,601 deaths, a one-day increase of 39. The actual number of cases is likely far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
IndyCar is set to open its season at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on June 6, but track president Eddie Gossage said that even under the new rule, the Genesys 300 race will still not include fans.
“Nobody wants to have the stands filled with fans more than me but we’re just not in a position to do that yet,” Gossage said in a written statement, noting the race will be broadcast live on NBC. “While the state will permit us to operate at 25 percent of capacity, there are still too many unanswered questions for an event that is just one week away.”
PGA Tour has previously said it plans to restart its season at Colonial in Texas on June 11-14 without fans attending.
Major League Baseball has proposed starting its season in early July at regular-season ballparks, if necessary without fans. Abbott’s order, however, may not impact the Rangers and the Astros because “stadiums with retractable roofs are not considered to be outdoors,” health department spokeswoman Lara Anton said.
The order doesn’t sports events.
Baseball: At least nine major league franchises have informed minor leaguers they will continue to provide allowances after the May 31 expiration of Major League Baseball’s policy guarantying those players $400 per week. The
Padres and Mariners are promising payments through August, and the Dodgers, Mets, White Sox, Rays, Rangers and Orioles have pledged to do so through at least June. The White Sox are even providing those stipends to 25 minor league players recently released.
College football: Georgia picked up another high-profile transfer to compete for its starting QB job, landing former Southern California starter JT Daniels. Daniels started for the Trojans as a freshman in 2018, but lost his job to Kedon Slovis after going down last season with a knee injury. Daniels will battle for playing time with graduate transfer Jamie Newman.
Horse racing: Nadal, one of trainer Bob Baffert’s early favorites for the rescheduled Triple Crown, injured his ankle after a workout at Santa Anita and is out of contention for the series. The undefeated 3-year-old colt suffered a left front condylar fracture, Baffert said. He had surgery during which two screws were inserted in his ankle at the track’s equine hospital. Baffert said Nadal could return to racing after a 90-day recovery period. However, he would miss the Belmont Stakes on June 20, the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5 and the Preakness on Oct. 3.
NFL: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced after an owners conference call that the league’s virtual season will be extended two more weeks but that he’s hopeful coaches will be able to return to team facilities next week. In a memo sent to teams, Goodell outlined the next phase of reopening of facilities, which can begin Monday. Also, owners tabled a proposal that would have offered a fourth-and-15 play as an alternative to the onside kick. They approved testing expanded use of replay in the preseason to aid in officiating.
NHL: Since the NHL is planning to go straight to the playoffs, it’s handing out a trophies for the shortened regular season. The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and Bruins’ David Pastrnak share the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the top-goal scorer after tying with 48. The Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl won his first Art Ross Trophy for leading the league with 110 points, which he accomplished in 71 games. The Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy for leading the league standings with 100 points and the team’s goaltenders, Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, earned the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals.