New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday gave the immediate go-ahead for professional teams to hold training camps in the state. As a result, the Nets announced they would re-open their Brooklyn practice facility on Tuesday.
“Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps,” Cuomo said on Sunday during a press conference at Jones Beach.
While the Nets are taking advantage of the state’s green light, it’s not clear yet whether Cuomo’s comments will open a floodgate of professional teams training in the state.
For the most part, New York’s professional teams are looking to their respective leagues for guidance or are planning to train elsewhere.
“Working in conjunction with state government officials and local health authorities, the Brooklyn Nets will open HSS Training Center for voluntary player workouts on Tuesday, May 26,” the Nets said in a statement. “The organization will strictly follow the protocols outlined by the NBA and infectious disease experts to ensure that all precautions are taken in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment for players and staff.”
The Islanders, who train in East Meadow, and the Rangers, who have a facility in Greenburgh, New York, must get the NHL’s approval to re-open their practice rinks. Newsday reported this week that both the Yankees and Mets are likely to resume spring training at their Florida homes.
NYCFC has a practice facility in Orangeburg, New York but is also awaiting guidance from MLS.
The Jets and Giants have practice facilities in New Jersey.
Approximately half of the Nets’ 15-man roster remained in New York after the NBA season was halted on March 11. The Knicks are believed to only have one of their players still in New York.
The NBA has yet to announce a return-to-play model, though it could include all teams that resume play conducting games in Orlando, Florida. The league’s training camps could be held there as well.
The players who report to the Nets’ facility in Brooklyn must follow the established NBA protocols.
A maximum of four players are permitted into the facility at one time. Only one player may work at a basket at a time, accompanied by a coach who must wear a mask and gloves while throwing the ball to him. When players are not on the court, they must wear masks and remain socially distanced from each other and other team personnel. Plus, all workouts are strictly voluntary, so players are not under orders to return to the area.
The facility has been open to players getting treatment or rehab for injuries, though they were not allowed to work on the court.
As of last week, 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams had been able to re-open their practice facility.
But New York has been an epicenter for the coronavirus outbreak.
“I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena – do it,” Cuomo said. “Work out the economics, if you can. We want you up. We want people to be able to watch sports. To the extent people are still staying home, it gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy. So, we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible. And we’ll work with them to make sure that can happen.”
The NHL, which halted play on March 12, has yet to issue any league-wide guidelines on teams re-opening their practice facilities. It hoped to do so for small-group practices by the end of this month but there’s still no set timeline.
However, the league and its Players’ Association is moving toward finalizing a 24-team, return to play model that will have its teams compete for the Stanley Cup in two hub cities. neither believed to be in New York. The Islanders and Rangers would be included in the plan but the Buffalo Sabres, the state’s third team, would not.
“Obviously, it’s an important development for our New York-based clubs,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said of Cuomo’s decision in an e-mail to Newsday. “And it will be helpful to what we are trying to accomplish.”
NFL training camps do not open until late July and teams are conducting virtual – instead of on-field – offseason workouts.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has yet to give the go-ahead for either the Jets or the Giants to re-open their training centers, though the NFL has already given the go-ahead for its 32 teams to begin opening their facilities to limited personnel in states where it’s allowed.
Giants coach Joe Judge said earlier this month the team was exploring options of holding their training camp at a different location if they didn’t have the OK to open their East Rutherford, New Jersey facility. The Jets said on Sunday they were still focused only on training at their facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.