Looking Ahead to the Re-opening of Major League Sports After COVID-19
May 8, 2020
The economic and day-to-day impact of COVID-19 has impacted everyone across Canada and the world. While everyone is affected differently, the loss of sports and entertainment as shared cultural events is something everyone has in common. At Feigenbaum Law, we represent agents, coaches, and business managers in the Canadian and US sports & entertainment industries, and everyone has been left wondering when they can expect a re-opening of the industry, and what that might look like. As certain provinces and states begin to lessen restrictions, or at least begin looking ahead, we wanted to take a moment to look at what major sports leagues are planning.
Baseball Eyeing a Return-to-Play
Major League Baseball, which would have started play in April under normal circumstances, is preparing to share a return-to-play proposal with the MLB Players Association according to ESPN. At a high level, they hope to run “spring training” in mid-June with the season starting in July. The story states that each team is handling this news differently, with some telling players to start getting ready, and others waiting for official word. MLB players have already agreed to be paid a prorated salary based on the portion of games played, but health concerns remain, especially about the possibility that an outbreak could occur once the season starts. Many players have begun to ask what repercussions they may face if they refuse to play due to ongoing health concerns.
NBA to re-open practice facilities
The NBA was the first major sports league to suspend operations when COVID-19 began to spread across North America. The season was coming to a close, and the league hopes to resume play in order to conclude the playoffs. According to ESPN, a call between the commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA Players Association is scheduled for May 8, the same day the league will allow practice facilities to re-open for voluntary workouts with physical distancing in place. However, not every team plans to re-open practice facilities. It remains to be seen when the league plans to resume play.
NFL to Release Schedule
The NFL released its full schedule for the 2020 season on Thursday, May 7. According to the league, a memo was sent to teams on Wednesday, May 6 laying out protocols on how facilities might be able to re-open. The first week of the re-opening will not include players, but will give teams the opportunity to get their facilities ready, with an announcement about formal re-opening planned for May 15. The league has noted that no team can re-open unless every team is able to.
The league has not released a plan to enable players to access facilities, but commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is working with the NFL Players Association and hopes to have something in place soon.
NHL in talks with NHLPA
Like the NBA, the NHL was getting ready for its playoff season when COVID-19 forced a shutdown of the league. As of Wednesday, May 6, the league stated it had not made any decisions or set a timeline regarding a possible schedule for a return-to-play. However, the league stated that it hopes to move forward with the re-opening of facilities and small group activities in mid-May should things continue to move in a positive direction.
We will continue to closely follow and provide updates regarding the various professional sports associations as they become available. Stay tuned to our blog for more information.
Feigenbaum Law’s Mark Feigenbaum holds a US Masters of Laws degree in Entertainment, Media and Sports Law, and a Doctorate in Law focusing on the taxation of sports and entertainment professionals. This rare distinction, as well as his industry experience, uniquely position our firm to understand and advise on the complexities of high profile, cross-border work in these fields. We provide personalized, private service to a variety of clients including professional athletes, entertainers, business executives and corporations all around the world. Contact us to learn how our skilled team can assist you with your cross-border tax matters. We can be reached online or by phone at (877) 275-4792.