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Arizona clears path for professional sports to return without fans

Arizona is set to open its arenas and stadiums to major sports leagues.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced Tuesday that pro sports will be allowed to resume in the state beginning Saturday, though no fans will be permitted at games.

“We have had discussions with leaders of some of these leagues, and they all know they are welcome to operate, play and perform in the state of Arizona,” Ducey said, according to ArizonaSports.com.

Ducey unveiled his latest plan regarding the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, with the state’s stay-at-home edict set to expire Friday. Gyms and pools may reopen starting Wednesday as part of Phase 1.

“Today we get the chance to turn that dial a little bit more to the right to brighten Arizona’s economy and to bring back some of the energy that was lost due to this pandemic,” Ducey said, according to KTAR.com.

He added, “This is not a green light to speed. This is a green light to proceed, and we’re going to proceed with caution.”

WATCH | Toronto sports teams begin reopening facilities:

Toronto FC and the Raptors are allowing players to have voluntary individual workouts at their facilities but there’s no definite timetable for the return of MLS or NBA action. 2:17

The invitation for sports to restart came on the same day that Los Angeles County’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer, said that the local stay-at-home order likely will be extended through July.

Arizona’s open borders could prove enticing for sports leagues eager to resume play.

Multiple media outlets reported that Major League Baseball looked at spring training sites in Florida and Arizona as possible regular-season venues, with Texas also coming under consideration. However, more recent reports indicated that MLB would prefer a plan that has teams playing in their regular-season homes.

The Athletic also reported last month that the Arizona Coyotes proposed to the NHL that it serve as a host site for at least part of the league. One reported NHL restart proposal had teams playing in a total of two to four locations, possibly broken down by division.

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