President Donald Trump held a conference call Saturday with leaders of the major North American professional sports leagues and said he hopes to have fans back in arenas and stadiums “as soon as we can.”
The call to discuss responses to the coronavirus pandemic featured 12 top officials, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and UFC president Dana White.
“I want fans back in the arenas … by whenever we’re ready. As soon as we can, obviously,” Trump said during his daily news briefing. “And the fans want to be back, too. They want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey. They want to see their sports. They want to go out to the golf courses and breathe nice, clean, beautiful, fresh air.”
ESPN reported that Trump told commissioners on the call he hopes fans return to arenas and stadiums as early as August and also reportedly said the NFL schedule “should” start on time in September. Trump offered a more vague outlook during his news briefing.
In conference call with major league sports commissioners on Saturday, President Donald Trump said he believes the NFL season should start on time in September, sources familiar with the call told @wojespn and me. More on call coming at https://t.co/rDZaVFhcDQ.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 4, 2020
“I can’t tell you a date, but I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later,” Trump said.
The NHL paused its season March 12, following the lead of the NBA after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the COVID-19 virus the day before.
The NFL has continued with its offseason during the pandemic and reportedly is preparing to conduct its draft online this month after it was originally scheduled to take place in Las Vegas.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California contrasted Trump’s optimism during his daily news briefing Saturday and said he doesn’t anticipate NFL games being played in the state by September.
“One has to be very cautious here. One has to be careful not to over promise,” Newsom said.
The other commissioners included in the call were the NBA’s Adam Silver, the WNBA’s Cathy Engelbert, Major League Baseball’s Rob Manfred, the PGA Tour’s Jay Monahan, the LPGA’s Michael Whan, WWE’s Vince McMahon, NASCAR’s Steve Phelps, Major League Soccer’s Don Garber and Drew Fleming of the Breeders Cup.