Pritzker Hopeful Games Can Return To State In July

(670 The Score) Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker is hopeful that major professional sports can conduct games in his state beginning in July, though initially without fans in attendance.

Pritzker has maintained contact with the major professional leagues -- specifically naming the NFL, NHL and MLB -- as they plan potential resumptions to their respective seasons. Any plan to hold games in Illinois would require approval from state officials.

"Look, I am as anxious as I think many people are to get our sports up and running," Pritzker said at his daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday. "The problem is we can't put spectators in the stands today. There's just no way to do that safely, according to the doctors.

"They've actually come up with reasonably good plans, each one of the leagues. And I'm anxious, starting with baseball, to get baseball up and running again. I'm hopeful to be able to do that going into July."

The state of Illinois hasn't hosted a major professional sport since March 11, when the Blackhawks played at the United Center. By March 12, the NBA, NHL and MLB had each suspended play of their seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The NHL unveiled its return-to-play plan Tuesday, which included Chicago as a candidate to be one of the league's two host cities for the opening rounds of a 24-team playoff. Pritzker indicated he wasn't clear on the details of that possibility.

Illinois is set to enter the third phase of Pritzker's five-phase reopening plan Friday.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.