President Donald Trump held a conference call with major league sports commissioners on Saturday afternoon and said he thinks the NFL will be able to start its season on time in September, according to ESPN.
Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski that Trump hopes fans can attend games again by August or September. It remains unclear if medical experts would agree with that timeline amid the coronavirus pandemic.
After Trumps’s comments surfaced, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said during his daily news briefing that he does not think NFL teams nor fans will return to stadiums this fall.
“I’m not anticipating that happening in this state,” Newsom said. “Our decision…will be determined by the facts, will be determined by the health experts, will be determined by our capacity to meet this moment, bend the curve and have the appropriate community surveillance and testing to confidently determine whether that’s appropriate.”
ESPN reports NBA commissioner Adam Silver told everyone on the call that the “leagues would love to lead the way in starting the economy once there was an ‘all clear’ from public health officials.” The NBA was the first league to suspend its season on March 11 after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus, and many leagues followed suit shortly thereafter.
Trump reportedly suggested the leagues could collectively lobby for tax credits that previously existed allowing fans to deduct concessions and tickets from taxes. The proposed tax credits could help fans who have been financially impacted during the pandemic.
Trump addressed the conference call during his daily news briefing late Saturday afternoon.
“They want to get back. They’ve got to get back,” he said in reference to the sports leagues. “We want to get back soon. Very soon.”
A White House pool report revealed commissioners and executives from 13 major sports participated in the call, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, WNBA, PGA Tour, MLS and more.
“The President recognized the good work being done by many teams and players to care for their communities, workforces, and fan bases across the Nation,” White House spokesperson Judd Deere said in a statement. “President Trump encouraged them to continue to support their fellow Americans during this challenging time.”