Two weeks before the start of baseball season, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sat with executives and former players from the Mets and Yankees to announce that outdoor stadiums will be permitted to welcome fans to games.
Cuomo said that large outdoor venues will be able to operate at 20% capacity and indoor ones at 10%, with the expectation that this will increase over time. The governor made the announcement affer releasing new, encouraging statistics about the current state of the coronavirus pandemic, boasting that the progress is due to the state’s response.
“New York has always been smart and safe all through this,” Cuomo stated during a Thursday press briefing that did not include a Q&A session.
Cuomo did not address the increasing calls for his resignation that have stemmed from multiple scandals including his administration’s response to the pandemic. Speficially, state officials have blasted the governor for his March 2020 directive stating that nursing homes had to accept residents with COVID-19 after they were released from the hospital. Cuomo’s administration also underreported nursing home deaths ‒ withholding accurate information from state lawmakers ‒ while the governor insisted that the deaths were not the result of his directive. This comes on top of several allegations of sexual harassment brought by women including former aides and one current staffer.
Instead, the governor focused on baseball, and he was joined by ex-players Al Leiter and C.C. Sabathia. Leiter recalled his time playing for both New York teams, specifically how important the game was to fans when his Mets team was the first team to resume playing in New York after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. With that memory in mind, Leiter recognized the significance of having fans back at games for the first time since 2019.
“Our fans are really hungry for this,” Yankees president Randy Levine echoed.
Cuomo himself joked about supporting both the Mets and Yankees — a controversial position among New Yorkers. He said he grew up near the Mets’ former home Shea Stadium but he saw the Yankees play the first time he went to a game in person.
“I’m a New York baseball fan … we support New York teams,” Cuomo said, perhaps a subtle jab at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is a self-proclaimed Boston Red Sox fan.
Cuomo said that fans attending games will have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or immunization. He said that the capacity restrictions will be revisited in mid-May, and that he expects greater leniency with capacity as well as test requirements over time.
In addition to sporting events, Cuomo predicted that New York will see greater flexibility “across the board,” as the state gradually gets back to normal life.
“And that’s only because we have been smart,” he said.