Florida Gov. Ron Desantis Says MLB Fans Could Attend Games in June or July As Part of Reopening Plans

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has fuelled hopes baseball may be near a return, suggesting fans could be allowed into ballparks as early as July.

The MLB season was due to get underway on March 26 but was suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the last few weeks, however, rumors baseball could make a return as early next month have intensified.

According to CBS Sports, one of the proposed plans would involve playing all regular-season games across hubs in Florida, Texas and Arizona—earlier this month ESPN had reported the latter could host all 30 franchises playing games at Chase Field, the home of Arizona Diamondbacks, in Phoenix and at other ballparks in the Phoenix area.

While MLB is still to make a decision and continues to assess different proposals, DeSantis championed Florida's cause on Wednesday.

"If the trends are good, as you get into June and July I think there is a window to have some fans," he told reporters at a media briefing.

"You're not going to have everyone packed in [a ballpark], but in 90° weather in the state of Florida, if you're out there and someone is 10 feet away from you and you want to watch a ball game you may be able to do that."

DeSantis then noted every decision on allowing fans back into ballparks and other venues will be taken following the guidelines set out by health experts.

JUST NOW: Gov. DeSantis says he hears MLB is coming back and believes fans could be welcome in Florida in June or July. pic.twitter.com/pRbyMaPKKY

— Andy Slater (@AndySlater) April 29, 2020

"We're gonna be driven by the facts and driven by the data," he added.

"But I think Major League Baseball coming back, I'm hearing this, I think that's going to be exciting for a lot of people. I just think that there's gonna be lots of possibilities, so let's just be resourceful and creative."

On Wednesday, DeSantis announced steps to reopen most of his state for business from next week. The first phase of the plan includes allowing most areas to open both restaurants and stores at 25 percent capacity.

Cinemas, gyms, bars and personal service providers, however, will remain closed until further notice.

The Florida Governor's comments came a day after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a key member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, admitted it may be very difficult for some sports to return this season.

"Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything," he was quoted as saying by The New York Times.

"If you can't guarantee safety, then, unfortunately, you're going to have to bite the bullet and say, 'We may have to go without this sport for this season.'"

The MLB has been very proactive in trying to get its season up and running as quickly as possible and it continues to assess a variety of options.

On Wednesday, USA Today reported the league was considering a three-division, 10-team plan in which teams play only within their division. MLB officials were described as "cautiously optimistic" baseball will return in late June and no later than July 2, with games played behind closed doors in major ballparks.

The three-division plan would temporarily scrap the traditional American League and National League boundaries, with teams grouped into a division based on geography.

That would have the two-fold effect of sharply reducing travel, while allowing players to remain at home.

Meanwhile, The Athletic indicated the MLB considered the period between late June and July 4 the "most realistic time range for Opening Day." Under the proposal, the regular season would feature anything between 80 and 100 games and stretch all the way into October.

Under the proposal, the World Series would be held in late November, possibly even December, and all games would be played behind closed doors.

As of Thursday morning, over a million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest tally of any country in the world.

Almost 61,000 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and over 124,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

Almost 228,000 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There have been almost 3.2 million confirmed cases globally.

Florida, MLB
A baseball waits on the mound before a game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Colorado Rockies at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. Julio Aguilar/Getty