COVID-19 pandemic

NFL head coaches can reportedly return to team facilities next week

NFL head coaches can reportedly return to team facilities next week

No one steals thunder quite like the NFL. 

On a day when the NHL is planning to publicly announce how their season will return, it's being reported that the NFL may take a significant step towards their own reopening – and soon. 

Yahoo Sports' NFL columnist Charles Robinson is reporting that NFL coaches may return to team facilities as early as next week, and the league has its eyes on OTAs in mid-to-late June:

The sources told Yahoo Sports that if coaches resume their in-house work next week, minicamps including players could be scheduled as early as June 15 or as late as June 27, depending on COVID-19 data and whether a handful of franchises get a “go ahead” signal from state governments to resume full operations. Resuming full operations and getting a minicamp scheduled would represent the league's biggest step to date toward keeping the 2020 NFL season on track for a regularly scheduled fall kickoff.

Robinson's source adds that 'June 15 and June 27 are the dates that have been identified as potential full-squad minicamp windows,' and the 'key hurdle' is the timeline in which California governor Gavin Newsom begins to reopen the state. Newsom has already expressed a willingness to have professional sports team return under strict and specific guidelines. 

The news is a good sign for the return of the NFL on a normal schedule – a reality that's looked increasingly likely over the past couple weeks.

Forbes predicts Bears could lose $150+ million if fans can't come to games

Forbes predicts Bears could lose $150+ million if fans can't come to games

If you're reading this, Virginia McCaskey and Ted Phillips, now's a good time to stop! Seriously though it's really in your best interest to stop right here.

This week, Forbes came out with an article projecting the revenue lost if NFL games are played in front of empty stadiums this fall. Would it surprise you to learn that they're bad? According to the publication, the Bears would be in line to lose $166 million if they can't fill Soldier Field. That's a whole bunch! Who could have guessed the Bears earned so much from charging $17 for beers. 

League-wide, the Bears would be the 12th worst off in terms of missed revenue from games. That doesn't sound great (partially because it's not) until you look at some of the teams above them. The Packers would lose $174 million. The Patriots would lose $315 million. Then there's the Cowboys – they'd lose $621 million without fans. Six hundred and twenty one million dollars. 

Fan attendance: still important! 

How California Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement affects MLB, Cubs and White Sox

How California Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement affects MLB, Cubs and White Sox

California Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered a piece of good news for baseball on Monday.

“Pro sports, in that first week or so of June, without spectators, and (with) modifications and very prescriptive conditions, also can begin to move forward,” he said, “and a number of other sectors of our economy will open up, if we hold these trend lines the next number of weeks.”

Major League Baseball’s proposal to return this summer was always contingent upon the states’ reopening process. Commissioner Rob Manfred made that clear on CNN last week, saying the league's plans “are dependent on what the public health situation is and us reaching the conclusion that it’ll be safe for our players and other employees to come back to work.”

RELATED: Rob Manfred 'hopeful' MLB will have 2020 season, lays out coronavirus plan

When the owners approved a proposal last week that targeted a July Opening Day, California had just begun to move into Stage 2 of Newsom’s stay-at-home order, gradually reopening low-risk workplaces. Five MLB teams were subject to Newsom’s order.

Newsom’s latest announcement, which was live-streamed to a broader audience from Napa County, provided realistic optimism that those five California teams may even be able to use their home ballparks for a June "spring" training. 

MLB’s return-to-play proposal reportedly gives teams the option of training and playing on their home turf, sharing a big-league ballpark with another team, or taking their operations to their spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida. 

Teams playing in coronavirus hotbeds are the most likely to take up the third option. So, having California on track to be able to host spring training in June takes the pressure off the Cactus League facilities. 

The Giants, Angels and A’s have their own spring training sites in Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa, respectively. But the Dodgers share Camelback Ranch with the White Sox, and the Padres share Peoria Sports Complex with the Mariners.

Having several teams in the same state would reduce travel, and therefore reduce the health concerns that come with it. But that setup would also become a social-distancing roadblock. The over 60 pages of health and safety guidelines that the owners proposed to the MLB Players Association last week — The Athletic was the first to report the details of the document — included social distancing measures.

Spring training included three phases that slowly introduced larger group workouts, and eventually intrasquad scrimmages and games. The document encouraged using nearby facilities to stagger workouts throughout the day. 

It’s unclear if the Chicago teams, two other Cactus League members, will be cleared to play at Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field come June. But if enough teams descended upon Arizona, staggering workouts would become a logistical nightmare, especially with the weather constraints caused by the stifling Arizona summer heat. 

Newsom’s announcement was a positive development for baseball, but it was not a guarantee that all five California teams will stay home for a June spring training. The “if” in Newsom’s statement was an important one. So important that he repeated it several times. 

“We expect if we hold the rate of (COVID-19) transmissions,” he began, “if we hold the positivity rate down, we continue to do justice to the hospitalization and ICU numbers …”

If California continues to contain the coronavirus outbreak, pro sports could return to the state in June.

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