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Report: MLB will allow local governments to decide whether fans can attend games

If Major League Baseball returns in 2020, some teams might have fans in the stands after all. The league will reportedly allow local governments to make decisions on whether fans can attend games, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

If true, that could give the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers a significant leg up on opponents in 2020. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that Texas-based sports teams are allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. Abbott initially ruled outdoor stadiums could operate at 25 percent, but revised that policy a week later.

Other states have started to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, though it’s unclear how other states will handle local sports teams.

Major League Baseball and the Players Association are still negotiating on a start date for the 2020 season. No deal has been reached yet, and the league has indicated it won’t counter the last proposal that it rejected. Commissioner Rob Manfred and the owners could instead potentially unilaterally implement a season as short as 50 games. Once any sort of schedule is sorted out, teams — and local governments — will have to decide how to handle the issue of fans.

MLB will also have to prepare regulations and guidelines if fans are allowed to attend games. Will the league require fans to be tested for coronavirus before entering stadiums? What process will teams follow if a person who attended a game tests positive days later?

While that sounds like a massive headache, the league will likely put in the work if it means extra revenue. Through negotiations, the owners have made it clear revenue is important, to the point where they are willing to host a shorter season to make the numbers look better.

The Astros and Rangers have not commented on the possibility of having fans at games yet, though the Rangers have hosted high-school graduations at Globe Life Field over the past couple days. Attendees must practice social distancing while at those events.

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