The ever-changing response to the coronavirus pandemic has seemingly been handled differently in every state. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott’s new order will push his state toward normalcy, as the state will soon allow fans to attend outdoor sporting events in a strictly limited capacity.
According to Abbott’s new order, which was issued Thursday, outdoor stadiums will be allowed to host spectators at 25% capacity, which will allow for social distancing protocols to be adhered to.
Indoor stadiums will still be unable to host fans, and any league intending to host spectators under the new order will have to apply through state health officials.
Earlier in the year, Abbott issued an order that would allow professional sports leagues to hold events without fans starting in June. As the state furthers its plans to reopen, fans will now be allowed.
With the baseball season looming, as Major League Baseball targets an early-July Opening Day, the Rangers and Astros will have been eager to learn the details of Abbott’s new order. However, those two clubs will likely have to wait before allowing fans to attend games.
According to health department spokeswoman Lara Anton, “stadiums with retractable roofs are not considered to be outdoors.”
At this stage, MLB has been planning on beginning and playing at least a significant portion of the season without fans in attendance.
Texas to Host Upcoming Sporting Events
Despite announcing a one-day high in new cases the same day as Abbott’s new order was issued, Texas is pushing toward a complete reopening. After adding another 1,855 coronavirus cases Thursday, Texas has 59,776 confirmed cases and has experienced 1,601 deaths.
In the background, the sports world has been preparing and beginning its comeback. Texas now enters the forefront of that conversation, as a pair of events are set to take place in the first half of June.
Starting June 11, the PGA Tour has previously said it plans to restart its season at Colonial in Texas without fans in attendance.
On June 6, IndyCar is planning to open its season at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Despite Abbott’s new order, track president Eddie Gossage said the Genesys 300 race will still be held without fans.
“Nobody wants to have the stands filled with fans more than me, but we’re just not in a position to do that yet,” Gossage said in a written statement. “While the state will permit us to operate at 25% of capacity, there are still too many unanswered questions for an event that is just one week away.”
The order issued by Abbott on Thursday does not address college sporting events.
Texas Sports Teams Expected to Contend
When surveying the major sports landscape in the United States, Texas stands out as one state with a slew of teams aiming to compete for titles when play gets back underway.
In the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys are loaded with talent and have championship aspirations after bringing in new head coach Mike McCarthy. At +1700, the Cowboys own the sixth-best odds of winning the Super Bowl.
As the NHL gears up to head straight into the postseason, the Dallas Stars have a respectable chance of bringing home the Stanley Cup. At +1500, Dallas is one of just eight teams with odds better than +1800.
Texas also has a championship hopeful in the NBA. Although the Houston Rockets aren’t among the trio of favorites — the Bucks (+240), Lakers (+270), and Clippers (+340) — they’re the first team to follow that group with odds of +1200.
And in Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros stand alone as the third favorite to win the World Series with odds of +750. While the Astros trail the Dodgers (+380) and Yankees (+380), they also own a significant lead over the Braves (+1400), the sport’s fourth favorite.