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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has opened up some more seats for sports fans in his state.
Abbott announced Wednesday that professional and collegiate sports venues in Texas will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity effective immediately, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The announcement, part of the third phase of Texas' economic reopening, comes just one week after Abbott allowed outdoor venues to operate at 25% capacity. Wednesday's announcement marked the first time that NCAA sports were included in the reopening.
Baseball fans in Texas could be the biggest beneficiaries of Wednesday's announcement, assuming Major League Baseball begins its 2020 season. MLB is leaning toward using local and municipal government rules to determine whether or not fans can attend home games this year, two sources told Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News on Thursday.
Texas is the only state allowing even a percentage of fans to attend live sporting events, meaning the state's two MLB teams - the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros - could have a major home-field advantage. Under the new guidelines, both Globe Life Field, the Rangers' brand-new stadium, and Houston's Minute Maid Park could potentially host just over 20,000 fans per game this season.
MLB and its players' association are still negotiating terms for a shortened 2020 season. Talks between the sides have grown contentious in recent weeks.
Under the terms of last week's announcement, all leagues wishing to have some fans in attendance for events in Texas would first need to gain approval from the Department of State Health Services. Any plans to host spectators at Rangers or Astros home games would also be subject to change, Grant reported.
Upcoming sporting events in Texas include an IndyCar race in Fort Worth this weekend and the PGA Tour's Charles Schwab Challenge beginning June 11. Both events will still be contested without fans, according to the Morning News.