EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Return to play. That is the mission for the state of Texas and Governor Gregg Abbott. It has been over two months since we have seen live, professional sports in the Lone Star State, but that will change on May 31.
Governor Abbott announced on Monday that beginning on May 31, professional sports will return to action without fans. Abbott also saying that youth sports programs can resume on the same date.
“Some professional sports can return on May 31,” Governor Abbott said. “That includes pro golf, auto racing, baseball, softball, tennis, football, and basketball. For all sporting and camping activities, special safety centers apply to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Abbott’s announcement does not necessarily mean we will be seeing the El Paso Chihuahuas or El Paso Locomotive FC take the field at Southwest University Park anytime soon. Major League Baseball (MLB) will have the final say on if the Chihuahuas can begin play. The United Soccer League (USL) will decide if Locomotive FC, who resumed practice in small groups last week, will get back to action in 2020.
If the precedent is no fans, MountainStar Sports Group, who owns both the Chihuahuas and Locomotive FC, acknowledges the economic factors that will hinder their effectiveness and bottom line.
“In the case of minor league sports, generally, we are a live event business,” MountainStar Sports Group President Alan Ledford said. “If we don’t have live events with fans, our revenue is severely affected.”
There seems to be growing optimism the USL will be able to resume play. Soccer across the globe is beginning to open up, however, Minor League Baseball (MiLB) is a different story. According to AP Sports, MLB’s return to play proposal involves expanded rosters and a 20-man taxi service. Think of a taxi service like a practice squad. That is 24 additional players with their respective big league teams, players who normally would be playing at the Triple-A level.
Ledford recognizes the Coronavirus Pandemic has created short-term problems for MountainStar Sports Group, but management is focused on long-term solutions.
“It’s day-to-day, regardless of what business we’re in,” Ledford said. “We are evaluating things on a deliberate, thoughtful basis.”
Return to play in Texas is the mission, but there are still obstacles standing in the way of our local professional teams.