President Donald Trump wants to see sports being played in the United States with large audiences in attendance as soon as it’s safe.
On Saturday, Trump held a conference call with prominent executives from almost every major sports league including UFC president Dana White as he gave them an update on the current status of the coronavirus pandemic as well as plans to finally allow fans back into the arenas and stadiums to see their favorite athletes and teams.
While reports surfaced that stated Trump told them he was targeting August or September as a return date when he hoped fans could once again attend live sporting events, he stopped short of confirming that timeline in his press briefing later that day.
Trump did express a desire to return to business as usual for the various sports leagues after the NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer all suspended their entire seasons after the coronavirus outbreak first happened.
“I want fans back in the arenas,” Trump told reporters. “Whenever we’re ready. As soon as we can obviously. The fans want to be back, too. They want to see baseball and basketball and football and hockey, they want to see their sports. They want to go out onto the golf courses and breathe nice, clean, beautiful fresh air.
“I can’t tell you a date but I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later. We’re not going to have to have separation for the rest of our times on the planet. We need it for this period of time but eventually people are going to be able to occupy those seats in arenas next to each other like we have for all of my life, all of your life.”
Major leagues like the NBA and NHL are not currently planning a return any time soon while the NFL is planning for their upcoming draft with the actual season not expected to start until August or September.
That’s not the plan at the UFC where White is already plotting an event on April 18 at an undisclosed location. UFC 249 is expected to move ahead as scheduled, although the promotion will not have fans in attendance no matter where the event takes place.
White has said adamantly that he plans on promoting events on a regular schedule again starting with the April 18 card after the UFC was forced to postpone three straight shows after the coronavirus pandemic started.
Almost every major card the UFC has planned through April and May will likely need new locations due to restrictions put in place by various state governments in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
UFC Fight Night in San Diego on May 16 already needs a new location after the California State Athletic Commission shut down all combat sports events in the state through the end of May.
Trump made it clear he wants to get the various sports leagues back up and running as soon as it’s safe to put athletes back on the field, courts—or in the UFC’s case the cage—again.
“They want to get back,” Trump said following the call. “They’ve got to get back. They can’t do this. Their sports weren’t designed for it. The whole concept of our nation wasn’t designed for it. We’re going to have to get back. We want to get back soon – very soon.”