Florida has followed in the footsteps of Arizona by announcing it is open to professional sports teams amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Ron DeSantis cleared the way in his state Wednesday.
“All these professional sports are going to be welcomed in Florida,” DeSantis said in a news conference. “That may not be the case in every other state in this country, as we’ve seen.
“So what I would tell commissioners of leagues 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. Because we think it’s important and we know that it can be done safely.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey opened the door for sports to return to his state without fans beginning Saturday.
The NBA, NHL and MLS seasons have been placed on hold, and the start of the 2020 MLB campaign has been delayed, because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The United States has been the hardest-hit country, with more than 1.4 million confirmed cases and over 85,000 deaths.
“There’s been reports that Major League Soccer may want to have their season in Orlando. Do it. We want to have you here,” DeSantis said. “We want to have the basketball (NBA) practicing again. We would love to have the Major League Baseball.
“And I think the message is that our people are starved to have some of this back in their lives. It’s an important part of people’s lives. So we want to be able to do that. I think we can certainly do it in a way that’s been safe.”
The UFC is already operating in Florida; it staged UFC 249 behind closed doors last weekend and has two Fight Night events lined up this week, on Wednesday and Saturday. Last month, WWE held WrestleMania 36 at its Performance Center in Orlando, also with no fans.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.