Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas was on the front lines on the sudden shutdown of sports two months ago, declaring a state of emergency that effectively canceled the Big 12 Conference basketball tournaments.
Now, as spring slips toward summer and COVID-19 has killed more than 80,000 in the country, Lucas and dozens of mayors and governors are on the other end of the equation, this time charged with giving the go-ahead to restart sports.
Major League Baseball could be the first team sport to get back to competition, with hopes of contesting games without fans in attendance as early as July in as many of its home cities as possible.
Lucas says he knows the nation is starved for sports and knows Kansas City is fortunate to have weathered the first wave of the deadliest health crisis in a century better than most. Despite that, he has a difficult time seeing its imminent return. “Early July would be an aggressive timetable,” Lucas tells. “And I say that as a market in Major League Baseball most blessed to not have a large number of cases. We’ve been fortunate. If the public health (statistics) support such a move, we could find a way.
“That said, nobody’s going to be the mayor, nobody’s going to be the health official who encourages it (prematurely). I’m very worried about that.”
He’s not alone.
Multiply Lucas’ dilemma across 28 cities, one international border and a vast array of government restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus, and the challenges MLB faces in executing its latest plan to start its season — and recoup as much of its estimated $10.5 billion in annual revenues as possible — crystallize.
As well as governors in select states, and the roughly one-third who responded revealed a caution to bringing back sports before data indicate it is safe — something that could be weeks and likelier months down the line, according to various reopening plans.