When major league team sports return, they will be in Florida.
It’s likely to be sooner rather than later after the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer have each taken significant steps in returning to action this week. Both teams are planning to complete their seasons at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. Florida governor Ron DeSantis announced in May that the state would welcome any professional teams looking to play.
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The MLS is a step ahead, as the league and players’ union signed a new collective bargaining Wednesday. The CBA, which will run through 2025, includes a plan to hold a 26-team tournament at Wide World of Sports to complete the 2020 season that was suspended in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament won’t last longer than 35 days.
"Thanks to the leadership of our union and the leadership of our owners who were working hard to reach an agreement, we were fortunate to be able to finalize an agreement," MLS commissioner Don Garber said. "Since the beginning of the suspension of our season, we have been focused on trying to develop a return to play plan for our teams and before that a training protocol while trying to manage the impact of this crisis on our league."
According to Boston.com, the sides had agreed to a new CBA on Feb. 6, but it wasn’t ratified before the season was suspended March 12. Boston.com reported that players will take a 7.5 percent salary reduction, while Garber expects the league to take a $1 billion revenue hit.
“There is no winner in this situation. I want to be clear about that. This is a really terrible situation for all parties involved. Nobody should feel like they won a negotiation in this sense,” Nashville defender Daniel Lovitz said, according to Boston.com. “But from a solidarity standpoint, given the route that the league chose to take at this time in the negotiation process, we’re extremely comfortable and proud of our group of players and what we’re able to communicate back to the league and ultimately receive what we feel is a more than fair deal.”
While each MLS team had only played two games before the shutdown, the NBA was nearing the stretch run when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus and the games stopped. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that the NBA’s plan is ready to go, awaiting approval from the league’s board of governors on Thursday.
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According to Wojnarowski, the plan is for 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams to report to the Wide World of Sports, while the teams that were out of the playoff picture when the season stopped will remain home. The plan is to have 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams in attendance to play eight games that will settle playoff seeding. The playoffs, which include the top-eight teams from each conference, would go no later than Oct. 12.
The teams will begin training in July. The league plans to have daily coronavirus testing at the Wide World of Sports. If a player tests positive, they will be treated and quarantined while the team continues to play.
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