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Abbott Opens Texas Sporting Events to Spectators

Gov. Greg Abbott says fans can attend sporting events. That doesn't mean there will be any butts in the seats at Texas Motor Speedway's next event.
Gov. Greg Abbott says fans can attend sporting events. That doesn't mean there will be any butts in the seats at Texas Motor Speedway's next event.
Rachel Parker
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Beginning Sunday, Texas pro sports teams and facilities can allow fans to attend their outdoor events at up to 25% capacity, according to a proclamation from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Motor sports events can open at 25% capacity beginning Friday.

The governor published his amended rules on May 22 without an announcement — the Austin-American Statesman was the first media outlet to pick up the order — less than a week after he'd said that pro sports could resume, without fans, on June 1.

Abbott's order does not address high school or college sports, nor does it permit any fans to attend indoor sporting events.

For now, Abbott's order has little practical effect. According to WFAA reporter William Joy, neither Texas Motor Speedway nor Colonial Country Club, both scheduled to hold pro sports events in June, plan to change their plans to keep fans out.

The NBA and NHL both haven't set dates for returning to play, but if and when they do, the Mavericks and Stars will be playing indoors. Globe Life Field, the Rangers' new stadium, has a retractable roof, but Major League Baseball is far from a sure thing to return this year, given the impasse that the league and its players have reached over proposed salary cuts. The start of the NFL's season is at least three and a half months away.

Like so many of Abbott's orders to reopen the state, his decision to open up pro sports isn't really up to him. The opening of restaurants to 50% capacity doesn't matter if customers don't show up, and opening stadiums won't matter if the leagues they host aren't up, running and confident that it's safe for their fans and their bottom lines to allow spectators.

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