Florida Governor invites pro teams to practice, play in the Sunshine State

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The same day Jacksonville hosted a second UFC event, Florida’s governor invited professional sports teams to bring their practices and games to the state.

This comes as major sports leagues are working to figure out how to hold their seasons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Experts tell Action News Jax even with no fans – this could bring in big bucks for cities like Jacksonville.

“You have a team in an area where they just won’t let them operate, we’ll find a place for you here in the state of Florida because we think it’s important, and we know that it can be done safely,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday.

Jaguars fan David Mendenhall is ready for any live sports he can get.

“Getting sports back in here is something that’s going to keep our mind off of everything,” Mendenhall said. “Everybody is so excited for baseball and football to get back.”

Action News Jax reached out to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Jumbo Shrimp to see what- if any- direction they’ve been given.

The Jags said in part they’re “continuing to operate under NFL league-wide guidelines that direct player and front office use of the building.”

The Jumbo Shrimp said, “as the city continues to reopen in phases, we should have a clear idea of what can happen at the ballpark.”

But what could it do for a city that right now is struggling financially due to the pandemic?

Kristi Sweeney is a sports management associate professor at UNF. She said bringing sports here would stimulate the economy.

“If you have 40,000 hotel rooms that were occupied this year, that’s down from over 100,000 last year, and 100,000 the year before, so just really putting people back into hotel rooms is important in Jacksonville,” Sweeney said.