Texas sports fans will now be able to enjoy sports – albeit in a limited capacity. A new executive order from Governor Greg Abbott allows for spectators at outdoor professional sporting events but limits stadium capacity to 25 percent.
The proclamation – which goes into effect today – is a revised order of Abbott’s recent decision to allow pro leagues to take the field with no fans beginning June 1. It applies only to professional leagues staging games outdoors, though organizations must apply for approval from the state health department before admitting any fans.
Sports given the green light by the order include basketball, football, golf, car racing, tennis, softball and baseball. However, any potential Texas Rangers and Houston Astros games may be excluded given that their venues feature retractable roofs which do not make them fully outdoor events, per a Texas health department spokesperson.
Guidelines for event spectators include keeping a physical distance of at least six feet from anyone not in one’s own household. If a distance can’t be maintained, the public is asked to wear face coverings and take part in proper sanitizing measures.
Although the order now gives pro leagues the green light to welcome back select fans, some events previously scheduled to take place behind closed doors are not changing their plans now. Next weekend will mark the opening of IndyCar at Texas Motor Speedway, though only drivers and essential personnel will be at the track.
“Nobody wants to have the stands filled with fans more than me, but we’re just not in a position to do that yet,” track president Eddie Gossage said in a 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.”
Abbott’s order – if unchanged for the coming months – would shoot the NFL’s optimistic planning for full stadiums this fall. However, Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy is not owing any time to the thought of potentially empty stadiums.
“I’ll be honest, I haven’t thought about it,” McCarthy said, via ESPN. “I’m not your guy for the hypothetical questions. I’ll just make it easy on you now as we move forward. That’s just not the way I’m wired. I don’t spend a whole lot or any time worrying about things that, especially things that I hope don’t happen. It’ll definitely be different. I think I’m stating the obvious, but we all understand how big and how important fans are to our game.”