Operation Legend expands, baseball returns and federal aid for entertainment venues struggling through extended coronavirus-driven closures moves closer to reality

President Donald Trump has continued to ramp up Operation Legend, which the federal government initiated in early July to fight what the Department of Justice termed “a sudden surge of violent crime” in U.S. cities.

Named after LeGend Taliferro, 4, who was fatally shot while sleeping last month in Kansas City, Missouri, the operation launched in Kansas City on July 8 and has since been expanded to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico, with Trump threatening a surge in more “Democratic” cities to come.

Since its inception, the program has generated equal parts skepticism and criticism, with some mayors pointing to the chaos currently unfolding in Portland, Oregon, where tensions have arguably been inflamed by the presence of unidentified federal agents. Additionally, The Washington Post reported that Operation Legend has only produced one arrest, leading some to label it a political stunt. Another report in the Post did nothing to quell this talk, with one administration official saying that the White House had long wanted to amplify strife in cities for the most 2020 of reasons: “It was about getting viral online content,” the official said.

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Despite cases of COVID-19 continuing to surge in the U.S., action around professional sports leagues has continued to ramp up, with baseball resuming games late last week, and basketball, hockey and football set to follow. Over at New York magazine, Will Leitch documented his experience attending a Cincinnati Reds game at a barren stadium over the weekend, and it sounds about as thrilling as one might expect:

I have been to Cincinnati Reds games before, and this bustle of hubbub around the park on game day is one of its signature charms. The local merchants tried to recreate that atmosphere around the park. But it was only the husk, with nothing in the middle. It felt a little like one of those fake suburban towns with mannequins and cul-de-sacs they built outside nuclear testing facilities in the ’50s. Everything is dressed up to look the same, but it’s all eerie, vacant and sad. And with that perpetual whiff of impending doom.

As a Browns fan, however, this makes me uniquely attuned to experiencing pro sports in the COVID era, if we're looking for silver linings. Furthermore, the Cleveland Hopefully Soon To Be Spiders are off to a 2-1 start following a weekend series against the Kansas City Royals.

On the downside, the Miami Marlins have already been forced to cancel their Monday home opener as the virus continues its spread among the team, with 14 players and coaches now reported to have tested positive. This harsh reality makes the idea of completing even an abbreviated season feel a bit more like a pipe dream.

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Also last week, Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota introduced a new piece of legislation called the “Save Our Stages Act,” a bill designed to fund independent venues struggling with the financial implications of COVID-19. Rolling Stone writes:

The “Save Our Stages” act would ensure that relief funds only go to small, independent venue operators, promoters and talent reps. The grant amounts would be the lesser of either 45% of a business’ operation costs from 2019 or $12 million. Those that receive grants would be able to use the money to cover costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as pay for rent, utilities, mortgages, personal protective equipment, maintenance, administrative costs, taxes, and expenses that would allow venues to meet local and federal social distancing guidelines.

If it passes, the legislation could be a needed boon for some venues in Columbus, including Ace of Cups, among others.