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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is open to sports returning to Fenway Park and TD Garden this summer despite the still-present coronavirus pandemic, but not with fans in the stands.
Walsh spoke with the Boston Globe Friday and told Michael Silverman that if he was comfortable with the safety of any league’s plan that he wouldn’t stand in the way of the Red Sox, Bruins or Celtics hosting games in their home venues. Massachusetts could begin reopening businesses and government services that have been shuttered for weeks as early as Monday.
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“As long as the players and the teams and the support staff and all the people that are associated with it are safe and feel comfortable,” Walsh told the Globe. “Obviously, their health is important to me as well. Many of them are constituents of mine, and even if they’re not constituents of mine, I obviously want people to be healthy and safe. That’s going to be the biggest challenge that they’re going to have to figure out and meet if they’re going to move forward here.”
He was adamant about keeping the stands empty to keep fans out of danger.
“There will be no fans in Fenway Park in July, there will be no fans in Fenway Park in August,” he said. “We won’t even be near a situation where there’s herd immunity, and there certainly won’t be a vaccine.”
Allowing Fenway to host is the most significant because Major League Baseball does plan on its teams playing in home parks in locations where city and state governments allow it. Momentum has begun on a plan that could lead to baseball resuming in July.
The NBA’s most likely plan, if it resumes, is to play all of its games in one city, likely either Las Vegas or at Disney in Orlando, Florida. So the Celtics are unlikely to use the TD Garden.
There’s an outside chance the Bruins could use the Garden. The NHL’s most recent plan was to use 2-4 arenas as pod hosts for multiple teams and series. The Bruins applied to have Boston be one of those cities, but it isn’t considered among the favorites.
Because they play in Foxborough, the New England Patriots don’t fall under Walsh’s jurisdiction.
Walsh thought sports returning, if done safely, could be emotionally valuable to the region.
“People have different reasons for distraction, and sports is one, and I think it would help a lot people’s psyches as far as having baseball and sports back,” he said and later added. “I think football and I understand basketball and hockey might be having similar conversations. I would love to see them come back, personally as a sports fan, but I also know as far as having fans in the stands, for the foreseeable future that’s not happening, just because the numbers don’t allow that to happen. The number of people with cases and enough immunity out there, it’s a huge safety risk.”
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