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What Impact Will Texas Reopening Have on Sports?

Paul Steinbach

Texas governor Greg Abbott made national headlines Tuesday by declaring, "It's time to reopen Texas 100 percent," leading many to speculate what the consequences might be.

Austin-based NBC affiliate KXAN pondered the decision's potential impact on sports in the state.

As KXAN reported, the new executive order allowing Texas businesses to reopen at 100 percent capacity and lifting the state's mask mandate takes effect March 10.

A University of Texas athletics spokesperson told the station that the athletic department “will continue to follow the advice” of its health officials regarding to COVID-19 protocols and capacity at Longhorns games. Texas won’t host another basketball game this season, so spring sports such as baseball, softball and tennis would be the focus of any potential changes to COVID-19 protocols currently in place for those sports.

Shortly after Abbott's announcement, athletic director Chris Del Conte field questions via Twitter, including the following response: “We’ll keep you posted as we continue to gather information from our game management team…until then all is status quo.”

For the 2020 football season started, UT limited football attendance at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium to 25 percent or 25,000 people and added other safety protocols.

In January, with higher COVID-19 numbers in Travis County, the athletic department opted to play men’s and women’s basketball games in an empty Frank Erwin Center with guidance from health officials, before allowing a small percentage of fans in February.

Last month, Texas put football season ticket deposits on sale, posting on its website that “Texas Athletics is currently planning for attendance at 2021 home games to be at 100 percent seating capacity. We will continue to monitor local COVID-19 health and safety conditions in coordination with NCAA, Big 12, University, state, and local medical partners.”

At the pro sports level, KXAN reports that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Tuesday that his franchise’s protocols and mask requirements at home games will remain intact. On Monday, prior to Abbott’s press conference, the San Antonio Spurs announced they would allow a limited number of fans at home games beginning March 12.

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