Florida Governor Says State Will Welcome Displaced Sports Teams

Tim Kelly
May 13, 2020 - 4:05 pm
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If the four major American professional sports leagues are to resume in 2020, they'll have to deal with the reality that some teams can't and/or won't be able to play in their home stadiums and potentially even home states. That doesn't mean leagues should give up on attempting to resume before there's a vaccine for COVID-19, but leagues will have to get creative.

And Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is happy to attempt to help.

"All these professional sports are going to be welcome in Florida," DeSantis said Wednesday. "That may not be the case in every other state in this country as we've seen, and 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 in the state of Florida, because we think it's important and we know it can be done safely."

Florida could theoretically help the NBA and NHL resume their 2019-20 seasons, but the state being willing to accept teams from other areas of the country may impact MLB the most.

Some previously leaked proposals suggested using Florida as one of a few states to play the 2020 season. The proposal for the 2020 season that MLB sent to MLBPA earlier this week backed off the idea of quarantining players in one or two states because of some pushback, but that doesn't mean that Florida couldn't still inherit a few teams in 2020.

Though MLB may hope for all 30 teams to be able to play in their home stadiums in 2020, it remains to be seen if that's a realistic goal, even with increased testing and no fans in attendance. Is it a good idea for the New York Yankees and Mets to be traveling in and out of New York city (and the same for their opponents) when the CDC says that there are 336,681 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and over 27,000 citizens have been killed in the area that appears to be the American epicenter? Probably not. Those two could be candidates to play in Florida, at least to start the season. So could the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers and other teams that play in areas that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Tropicana Field
Tropicana Field has been home to the Tampa Bay Rays since their inception in 1998. Photo credit (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Florida has two domed MLB stadiums, Tropicana Field (home of the Tampa Bay Rays) and Marlins Park (home of the Miami Marlins). In addition to hosting the games of those two teams, one would think they could help to host displaced teams, especially if MLB is willing to be flexible with the start time of games. Additionally, all of the teams mentioned have spring training facilities in Florida. The facilities would have to be equipped for instant replay and multiple broadcast booths, but in desperate times, baseball could consider such an arrangement if they deemed it a safe idea.

There are a few potential issues with the idea of playing in Florida, though.

The average high temperature in Florida in July is 90 degrees, and it rains quite a bit. The Marlins did play outdoors from 1993-2011 - at Hard Rock Stadium, which could be a possible site for a team to play at in 2020 - but there's a reason they don't anymore. If the best-case scenario is that the regular season starts in early July, there won't be time to make up rainouts. Players also are unlikely to be enamored with the idea of playing outside in Florida in the middle of the summer, if that matters.

More concerning is that while Florida hasn't been hit as hard by Coronavirus as some more northeastern and midwestern cities, it does still have the ninth-highest rate of confirmed cases among states in America. DeSantis may believe that the state can safely welcome other teams into it and host their respective seasons. But with 41,293 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, MLB could be left to determine whether they agree with that assessment.

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