MLS is tweaking the travel requirements prior to a proposed league-wide tournament set to be played in Orlando. The league was planning for all teams to convene at the Wide World of Sports Complex for training and competition, but now will allow teams to train at home facilities before traveling for the tournament. Meanwhile, the NWSL made it official that it will hold a 25-game tournament beginning in late June at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman (Utah) and Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy (Utah).
Salt Lake City is under consideration for the Premier Lacrosse League Championship Series event that is scheduled to start in late July.
In a CBS News story: "New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that coronavirus antibody test results may still be too inaccurate to be reliably used to determine coronavirus-related policy. In addition, not enough is known about what exactly the presence of antibodies indicates in terms of future immunity."
Law360 contributors Conniff and Macri with a look at legal hurdles to reopening sports venues: "Two legal issues that must be considered are the following: First, the potential liability leagues, teams and facilities face if anyone contracts COVID-19 at a sports facility; and, second, how contractual obligations to players, ticketholders and stadium concessionaires are implicated if stadiums remain empty (or largely empty) and revenues drastically decline. In many respects, steps that will be taken to maintain safety may potentially be inconsistent with the teams' and leagues' contractual obligations to their partners and fans." The pair also suggest protocols regarding social distancing, ticketing, concessions, staffing and more.
A Philadelphia Inquirer piece estimates that if MLB games aren't played this year, owners could lose $4B. If the NHL playoffs aren't played, the league could lose $500M in TV revenue. If college football were to be canceled, that could be a $4B loss. While the projected losses depend on scenarios such as whether games are played with fans in the stands or not, it could take these leagues several years to recover from the financial impact.
+ The Basketball Tournament will now play all of its games over 10 days this summer at one TBD location.
+ The John Deere Classic slated for July 9-12 at TPC Deere Run in Silvis (Ill.)has been canceled. The PGA Tour plans to fill the opening on the schedule with a new event.
+ USA Wrestlingcanceled the 2020 U.S. Marine Corps Junior and 16U National Championships at the Fargodome in Fargo (N.D.). The organization has now postponed or canceled 21 events since the beginning of the pandemic.
+ The CANUSA Games scheduled for early August in Hamilton (Ontario, Canada)have been canceled.
+ The 2020 Boston Marathonhas been canceled and will instead be held virtually. The race had been moved from Patriots' Day to Sept. 14.
+ Changes to the international sporting calendar led to cancellation of the 2022 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships. Scheduled host Canada will now do so in 2026.
+ La Liga is scheduled to resume play in a few weeks, but sport government officials in Spain say fans may be back in the stadiums as early as this fall.
+ The Premier League will restart on June 17 and play all remaining matches within the subsequent six weeks.
+ Italy’s Minister for Sport has cleared Serie A to resume play on June 20.
News from May 25-26Under his updated public health order, Colorado Governor Polis will allow youth sports camps to resume with social distancing restrictions beginning June 1. The order does not give an update on when youth sports leagues can resume. Youth sports and recreational sports for adults will resume in Texas beginning May 31, although games and competitions are not allowed to begin until June 15. Practices must be held without additional spectators but fans will be allowed at games if they remain six feet apart. Iowa Governor Reynolds lifted restrictions on youth sports, allowing games and practices to resume for baseball, softball, and organized running activities. While Florida Governor DeSantis allowed youth sports to resume last week, Alachua County (Gainesville) officials voted to delay making a decision on opening sports and camps until they get more information from major players such as the school board.
New Jersey Governor Murphy will allow professional sports teams to return to training and competition in compliance with health and safety protocols. Iowa Governor Reynolds lifted the state's restriction on gatherings of less than 10 people as long as social distancing guidelines are followed. Speedways, racetracks, and outdoor amphitheaters are allowed to reopen to spectators. In a letter, Pennsylvania Senators Mario Scavello (R) and Lisa Baker (R) call on Governor Wolf to allowNASCAR races at Pocono Raceway in June.
According to reports, the NBA could maximize entertainment value by experimenting with its playoff format when the season resumes rather than playing the traditional 16-team, two-conference format with rounds made up of seven-game series. Fresh options could include straight 1-16 seeding without conference affiliations a la the NCAA's March Madness or a pool-play, World Cup-style format that could feature all 30 teams. A group-stage format would allow teams to face each member of their assigned group the same amount of times before eight teams advance into a bracket that mimics the league's traditional postseason structure. In other scheduling updates, Commissioner Silver has discussed holding the NBA Draft in September before opening free agency by October 1 and delaying the start of the 2020-21 season until December.
The NHL released its plans for returning to play later this summer. With no date yet, the league will relocate the top 12 clubs in each conference to two hub cities to host playoff rounds. Each hub city will be equipped with comprehensive testing capabilities. Teams will begin voluntary, small-group training in early June and have a formal training camp but “don’t envision doing so before the first half of July,” per Commish Bettman. 10 hub cities are being considered, including Vancouver, Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
The National Women's Soccer League is expected to announce its return to competition with a tournament beginning the last week of June in Utah. The tournament would feature a round-robin format, like a World Cup group stage, at Zions Bank Stadium and the semifinals and finals would be played at Rio Tinto Stadium. Teams would take charter flights from their home markets to Utah and be tested upon arrival and continue to be tested twice a week throughout the event. According to sources, several USWNT members are expected to opt-out of participating to avoid injury and prepare for next year's Olympic Games.
The UFC will implement stricter testing protocols for its fights in Las Vegas on May 30 and June 6, including testing fighters when they arrive and after weigh-ins and requiring athletes to self-isolate until they receive the results. Participants and their teams will not be allowed to leave their hotels without permission from the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Yahoo’s Robinson reports NFL HCs could return to team facilities as early as next week with minicamps to follow as soon as mid to late June. Robinson notes that whether the NFL can pull off a fully operational minicamp depends on largely on a decision by California Governor Newsom. Meanwhile, NFL EVP of FB Operations Vincent says the league is planning on having full stadiums until the medical community advises otherwise.
+ In an interview with BBC Sport, Rory McIllroynoted that "the majority of players" want the Ryder Cup postponed until 2021 to allow for fans to attend. The event is currently scheduled for September 25-27 at Whistling Straights (Wisc.).
+ Charleston (S. Car.) rescheduled its annual WTA tournament for June 23 without fans.
+ The St. Jude Rock 'n' Roll Nashville Marathon and Half-Marathon is rescheduled for November 21.
+ Blizzard Entertainmentcanceled the annual BlizzCon but will consider hosting a virtual event in its place.
Facilities & Complexes:
+ The RFK Campus in Washington (D.C.)will remain closed with operations and services suspended until further notice.
+ Miami's Hard Rock Stadium will transform its turf into an open-air drive-in theater for 230 cars to provide family-friendly experiences while adhering to social distancing guidelines. The facility will showcase classic Miami Dolphins games and classic movies, and host commencement ceremonies and concerts.
National Council of Youth Sports executive director Wayne Moss calls the current financial state of affairs "an existential threat to the youth sports landscape as we know it," particularly in low-income areas, given lower tax revenue and private donations, along with rising unemployment and fewer slots due to social distancing. Drawing on experience during the 2008 recession, Moss: "As we have these issues, those providers in communities that need it most will also be those providers that likely will go under. So without their support, without their systems in those communities, those young people who really need it most likely will again be disproportionately impacted by not having sports."
California Gov. Newsom's about face on allowing pro teams to play in state (albeit without fans) could be attributed to its 13.3% "jock tax" that would bring $73M from MLB alone (the state is facing a projected $54B deficit). Per USC professor Dan Schnur, who was comms director for former governor Wilson: "Out-of-state multimillionaire athletes are a pretty easy target. Before he starts raising taxes on Californians, the jock tax is a much more politically acceptable alternative." The Staples Center in Los Angeles had expressed interest in hosting a resumption of NBA action, and L.A. is a possible hub for continuation of NHL play.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Executive Director Baker and his counterparts at New Year's Six bowls have been having weekly conference calls since COVID-19 struck. Baker on the advantage of their events being at the end of the season: "The good news for us is we’re going to really look at what the best practices have been throughout the year and see what kinds of changes have had to be made along the way. We’ll be the recipients of that by the time the postseason comes along." Indicates his team is planning as if the 85th edition of the bowl will be in prime time on December 30, as originally scheduled. Baker: "We understand there won’t be any guarantees for anything until right before kickoff. But we’re going to do everything we can to put on a great show and that we have a safe environment. … It’s a quirky year, no doubt about it."
+ World TeamTennis will condense its season to a three-week, single site event beginning in mid-July at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs (W. Va.).
+ The annual Big Ten Football Media Days scheduled for Chicago in late July will not be held as scheduled The conference will explore options for an alternate date and format.
+ Health and financial concerns have resulted in the cancellation of the World Transplant Games in 2021. The games were scheduled to be held in Houston.
News from May 20-21The National Federation of State High School Associations released guidelines for a return to competition. The guidelines split sports into three tiers, and specified that social distancing and other preventative measures will be necessary until a vaccine or treatment is readily available. The guidelines further state that moving through the phases of returning to competition would be done in conjunction with state government and health officials. High risk categories involved wrestling, football, boys lacrosse and competitive cheer/dance. In a similar fashion, Little League has released its best practices to provide a safe place to play for its participants once respective state and local health officials provide the go-ahead to return to action.
USATODAY with a piece on how the return of youth sports differs from pro sports. Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response director of operations Lauren Sauer: "I think it’s very likely that youth sports will return before national level sports. Youth sports are inherently more adaptable in the way that they can change the rules and regulations of the game, how they can have regionality to where they can be conducted and how they can quickly pause and restart activities." University of New Haven professor of sports management Gil Fried: "This is uncharted waters for us. When push comes to shove, it’s all going to be at the local level. What's the tolerance of people at the local level?"
In Alabama, athletic practices, drills and conditioning can restart on May 23 with competition allowed on June 15. South Carolina will resume youth sports practices on May 30 with games beginning on June 15. Minnesota youth day camps and youth sports practices with 10 or fewer participants can begin on June 1. High school baseball and softball can resume June 1 in Iowa, while a plan is being developed to bring back other high school sports this summer. Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey believes it is time to resume normal activity and is in support of resuming youth baseball and softball activity.
The Greater Orlando Sports Commission, in partnership with Orlando Venues, is leading a Best Practices Taskforce to develop operational guidelines for when sports facilities reopen. The commission has had 22 events canceled spanning from March 1 through June 30 totaling an economic impact over $52M.
Disney Worldappears to be the favorite to host NBA games should league action resume, according to The Athletic. A Disney source told reporter Keith Smith, "We are confident we'll be hosting the NBA in some fashion. It may not be the entire league, but we believe the NBA will be here to at least finish part of their season. Still hurdles to cross, but we are preparing as if that is the case." The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reports that Houston is under consideration to host 2020 playoff match-ups. According to the report, Houston has the facilities needed to host neutral site games thanks to the Toyota Center and George R. Brown Convention Center.
+ The 2020 California League All-Star Game scheduled to be played in Stockton (Calif.)has been canceled.
+ After being originally postponed from June to October, the 2020 Meijer LPGA Classic in Plainfield Township (Mich.)has been canceled.
+ The 2020 USA Triathlon Clydesdale & Athena National Championships scheduled for late June in Chattanooga (Tenn.)has been moved to mid-August in Pelham (Ala.).
+ All planned tournaments and leagues produced by the National Sports Center in Blaine (Minn.)have been canceled through July 2020, including the USA Cup.
+ IndyCar has made adjustments to its 2020 schedule with the race at Richmond Raceway moved back to 2021 and the street race in Toronto canceled.
+ U.S. Masters Swimminghas canceled its 2020 Summer Nationals Meet in Richmond (Va.).
+ Urbana (Ill.) Country Club will host its first ever AJGA event in early August when it welcomes a condensed field for a 54-hole tournament.
+ USA Hockeyplans to host the World Junior Summer Showcase in late July in Plymouth (Mich.), but Canada will not be making the trip due to coronavirus concerns. The expectations are that Sweden and Finland will still participate.
+ The NWSL is close to finalizing a month-long tournament in Salt Lake City this summer prior to returning to a regular schedule.
IOC President Thomas Bach said in an interview with BBC Sports that there are no back-up plans in place if the Olympics can’t be held in 2021. Bach said, “You cannot forever employ 3,000 to 5,000 people in an organizing committee. You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty." Bach also reiterated the games would be different with a focus on the essentials, and when pressed about whether a vaccine is needed in order to proceed with the games he stated they are relying on advice from the World Health Organization.
News from May 18-19Congressman Max Rose (D-NY) introduced the COVID-19 Youth Sports and Working Families Relief Act, a bill driven by national advocacy from the PLAY Sports Coalition and over 3K youth sports leaders, to Congress. Among various measures providing financial support for working families hoping to keep their children engaged in sport, the proposed legislation calls for the creation of a relief fund for youth sports providers and organizations. In a Forbes op-ed, LA84 Foundation President Renata Simril offers suggestions for changing the "pay-to-play" youth sports model to increase diversity and participation: prioritizing any federal funding for school- and community-based sports programs; educating school administrators on the importance of exercise in school curriculum; and supporting schools and municipal parks that anchor youth sports in their respective communities.
Akron (Ohio) will resume youth sports and open summer camps beginning June 15. San Diego County is appealing to California Governor Newsom to allow the county to jump to stage three of the state's four-stage reopening plan. If approved, youth sports could resume practices but could not host games or have spectators in attendance. Kansas Governor Kelly will allow the state to enter a "modified" stage two reopening, permitting youth sports practices and tournaments to resume on Friday with social distancing guidelines in place. Public gatherings are limited to 15 or fewer people.
USA Today examines the challenges facing mega sports complexes that depend largely on youth sports tournaments for revenue, including a shift to local or regional travel for sports organizations, an increase in safety concerns from families and teams, and shifting restrictions and guidance from individual state and local governments. Grand Park in Westfield (Ind.) lost 25% of projected revenue over a six-week span, while The St. James in Springfield (Va.) furloughed more than three-quarters of its workforce. St. James co-founder Dixon: ""It’s a really big foundational challenge to our business, and to others. We've tried to bridge the distance ... with digital tools. But that can only do so much." Mercyhealth Sportscore complexes in Rockford (Ill.) GM Mateus notes groups are looking at cost savings on travel: "We’re finding now that people may want to try smaller things, in the fall. They’re asking, 'Can I bring 10 teams in and do a smaller tournament?' That’d be an advantage for us if we can do that. [...] It’s an opportunity for us to look at the whole market. How do we help these teams stay more local? This is a great opportunity for us to reinvent ourselves."
Pro sports could reopen without fans in Texas by the end of May, in California by early June, and in New York as soon as communities meet the state's COVID-19 containment goals. South Carolina Governor McMaster is open to hosting pro sports at the state's available venues and his accelerateSC task force is finalizing a plan to reopen athletic fields and facilities. Colorado Governor Polis will allow pro sports to resume without fans in attendance. Pennsylvania Governor Wolf will allow NASCAR races without fans at Pocono Raceway in late June if the region improves from a red to yellow designation. In a May 15 letter, the Memorial Tournament and three other professional golf events asked Ohio Governor DeWine to allow fans to attend their July and August tournaments.
While ESPN's Wojnarowski reports that a two-city plan is still being considered for the NBA's return, he notes that Orlando "has had a lot of traction" over Las Vegas as a bubble city for the league.
According to NHL insiders, the league is considering a plan to host games for a dozen teams in two locations rather than spread teams out over four or more host cities. Commissioner Bettman: “I don’t think anybody has a fixed timetable, particularly in North America right now. We have been working very hard since we took the pause on March 12 to make sure that whatever the timing is, whatever the sequencing is, whatever physical ability we have in terms of locations to play, that we’re in a position to execute any or all of those options. There is still a great deal of uncertainty.”
ESPN takes a deep dive into MLB's proposed plan to launch a shortened regular season and expanded playoff by July 4, noting that the plan is "is like nothing that has been attempted in the history of American sport."
+ Belmont Stakes, originally scheduled for June 6, will be held on June 20 without spectators. As the first race in this year's Triple Crown, its distance will be shortened from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/8 miles.
+ The BIG3 is canceling the 2020 season, with season four to debut in Summer 2021 with television partner CBS Sports.
+ The Southern Leaguecanceled the 2020 Home-Run Derby and All-Star Game, scheduled for June 22-23 in Jackson (Tenn.).
+ USA Baseball announced a modified 2020 schedule, with a 10-event summer season kicking off in July.
+ The USGAcanceled qualifying opportunities for the U.S. Open at four events this summer and fall.
+ The MLS All-Star Game, Leagues Cup, and Campeones Cup have been canceled for the 2020 season.
+ The National Amateur Baseball Federationcanceled the Major Division World Series in Battle Creek (Mich.), originally scheduled for August 6-9. Battle Creek will host next year's tournament in August 2021.
News from May 15-17Ohio released a list of protocols, mandatory guidelines, and recommended best practices for non-contact youth sports as they resume on May 26. Players are required to maintain six-feet of distancing whenever possible, meaning no huddles, high fives, or group celebrations, while coaches and athletes not actively participating will be asked to wear face coverings at all times. Spectators will be required to maintain social distancing and are encouraged to wear face coverings. Staying in Ohio, officials with the Marathon Classic, currently scheduled as the LPGA's restart on July 23-26, will likely cancel the event if Governor DeWine refuses to allow fans to attend. Tournament director Judd Silverman: “Financially, it would not work for us. A business model with no fans is something that would be very difficult to afford.” DeWine is currently evaluating a proposal from the Memorial and other Ohio-based golf tournament organizations that includes social distancing plans requiring fans and personnel to wear face masks.
As the New Jersey Baseball Coalition gathers signatures on its petition urging Governor Murphy to resume non-contact youth sports, it is modeling proposed safety guidelines on regulations released by Ohio last week. Utah's recreational leagues and youth sports will be allowed to resume as the state moves to a yellow, "low-risk" phase this week, meaning groups up to 50 people will be permitted to congregate with proper social-distancing standards on all state-owned land. The Utah High School Activities Association and college athletics remain shuttered while Utah Jazz players and RSL players are allowed to use team facilities for voluntary individual workouts. The Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision to strike down Governor Evers' stay-at-home order has led to confusion over where and when youth sports can resume; volleyball, baseball and softball are expected to resume within the next few weeks while American Legion baseball has been canceled and tennis and soccer are determining their timelines.
On Tuesday, the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute and Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield (Ind.) will launch a nationwide survey of the impact of COVID-19 on youth sports and safety at youth sports facilities. The survey will be sent to national governing bodies, youth sports leaders, and parents and will review 10-12 sport and facility adaptations currently being considered as communities reopen. Initial results will be available by June 1. As states enter various stages of reopening, youth sports tournament organizers are weighing the pros and cons of staging events. Penn State College of Health and Human Development professor emeritus Scott Kretchmar: "The ethical issue comes in about necessary risks and unnecessary risks. And if waiting another two months removes an important, unnecessary risk, then you might argue let's wait two months, let's wait three months until the risk is more tolerable rather than pushing the envelope." California State Senator Richard Pan: "I would say that those are high-risk events. You're drawing people from so many different parts of the country. And some of these areas may have a higher rate of this disease and others. But now we're going to take all those people, bring them to one place, have them mixed together."
New York Governor Cuomo will allow racing to resume without fans at the state's 11 horse racing tracks and Watkins Glen International Speedway beginning June 1. Cuomo on MLB's discussions about resuming the season: "If you have an economic activity that can take place and generates economic interest and entertainment interest. When you look at the risk-reward, there's a lot of reward with minimal risk." In a discussion with NASCAR officials, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf noted that the area around the Pocono Raceway is in the "red zone," so the state is unable to make a decision regarding the June 27-28 doubleheader weekend. Boston Mayor Walsh is amenable to reopening Fenway Park and TD Garden without fans in attendance: “There will be no fans in Fenway Park in July, there will be no fans in Fenway Park in August. We won’t even be near a situation where there’s herd immunity, and there certainly won’t be a vaccine.” In an op-ed for The Dallas Morning News, Texas Lt. General Patrick called for sports to resume with fans in attendance, advocating for social distancing and limited capacity, temperature checks, and improving the pace of play.
The NHL is considering eight or nine potential hosts as part of its return-to-play proposals, including Las Vegas, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, and Minnesota. Current proposals would resume play with a 24-team playoff held at four or five neutral sites with limited or no spectators.
MLB's67-page return-to-play plan includes processing some 10K COVID-19 tests per week and modifying in-game settings to encourage social distancing. Each team will be allowed to have 50 players with anyone not participating in the game able to sit in the stands 6 feet apart. The plan prohibits high-fives, fist bumps, hugs, spitting, tobacco use and chewing sunflower seeds. Multiple temperature screenings daily for players and the league "will offer free diagnostic and antibody/serology testing ... for healthcare workers or other first responders in the Clubs' home cities as a public service." More.
NFL team facilities that meet pre-established criteria will begin reopening as soon as Tuesday in compliance with state and local regulations. Under phase one of reopening, teams are only permitted to have 50% of staff in a facility and no more than 75 people total; no coaching staff are permitted to return in order to ensure equity among all clubs but strength and conditioning coaches can work in a facility if participating in player rehab; no players are allowed in facilities unless they're undergoing treatment.
Fans will be allowed at UFC's Professional Bull Riders event in South Dakota in July, albeit only 35% of capacity will be sold. There will be a four-to-six foot buffer between ticketed seats and facial coverings will be provided for fans. Enter- and exit-only doors, early entry for the elderly and everyone will exit by zones. Mobile ticketing, contactless concessions, one-at-a-time in the restrooms and regular screening for staff. SD Governor Noem: "South Dakota is working to get back to normal and that includes the return of sports at the proper time." FWIW, there have been roughly 3,900 cases of coronavirus and 44 deaths in Sioux Falls.
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross will resume races without fans beginning May 31 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. Seven events will take place through June 21 and will be broadcast on NBC networks.
How will neutral site football matchups work with limited or no fans in the stands? Peach Bowl CEO Stokan: "Fans are important because they provide revenue. We’re a long way before that can be decided. Certainly we’re dealing in hypotheticals. We want to deal with the reality of situations." MEAC Commish Thomas: "Everyone is in a holding pattern right now because if the state of Ohio — or the state of Florida or Tennessee — determines that you can have games but with no fans, the participating institutions and the third party will have some decisions to make."
+ The AAUpostponed its junior volleyball championships from mid-June to mid-July. The event is expected to attract up to 15K attendees from 34 states over 12 days to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.
+ The ATP and WTAextended their suspensions on professional tennis until July 31, leading to cancellation of ATP events in Newport (R.I.) and Atlanta.
+ BASS released a revised 2020 schedule that features 16 postponed Bassmaster Tournament Series events and allows the full tournament circuit to be completed, including competitions for college, high school, and junior anglers.
+ The International Tennis Hall of Famecanceled the 2020 induction ceremony and Hall of Fame Open, originally scheduled for July 11-18 in Newport (R.I.).
+ The 2020 USATF Masters Outdoor Championships, scheduled for July 9-12 at North Carolina A&T State's Ike Belk Track in Greensboro, has been canceled.
Vicksburg's (Miss.) Sports Force Park reopened for local team training by appointment only and small event rentals, with each field limited to 20 users at a time. Under Governor Tate's current restrictions, the park is unable to host tournaments.
Disneywill open the Disney Springs shopping and dining complex - a small portion of the Walt Disney World Resort - this week and despite the "enhanced health and safety measures" the company is taking, this disclaimer can be found on the website: "An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. ...By visiting Walt Disney World Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19." Masks will be required for guests and employees, temperature checks for guests, and plexiglass dividers have been installed at registers.
News from May 13-14The CDC released six one-page "decision tool" documents to help schools, restaurants and bars, workplaces, and childcare centers navigate their reopenings. The documents do not advise organizations to stay closed if their communities are experiencing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases.
+ Before green-lighting the resumption of youth sports activity, Oregon Governor Brown is developing infection-control measures and guidance with the OSAA, Oregon Health Authority, and Oregon Department of Education.
+ Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission executive director Todd Johnson is leading a group of sport, facility, and school representatives to create a plan for the return of youth sports for Minnesota Governor Walz.
+ Summer camps in Rhode Island will reopen on June 29 but organized youth sports will remain canceled. Governor Raimondo is reportedly considering reopening sports camps or allowing limited team practices to take place later this summer.
+ Ohio Governor DeWine will allow low-contact or non-contact sports to resume on May 26.
In a survey of 1,050 adults conducted by N.C. State, George Mason, Utah State, and the Aspen Institute's Project Play, approximately 50% of parents are worried that their children will get sick if they start playing sports again and 46% worry about getting sick themselves if their children resume playing sports. 54% of all surveyed parents reported that their finances have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 but 61% expect their child to play sports at the same level as before. 73% of white parents, 66% of Hispanic parents, and 58% of African American parents anticipate that their children will resume playing sports once allowed.
In radio interviews this week, Michigan Governor Whitmer predicted her state would not be "filling stadiums in the fall" while Kentucky Governor Beshear warned that a vaccine or effective treatment might need to be in place before fans return to football stadiums during the upcoming college season.
Florida Gov. DeSantis to states where resuming college football isn’t an option: "If you have a team in a league in an area that just won’t operate, we’ll find a place for them here in Florida. Our people are starved to have some of this back in our lives. I think we can certainly do it in a way that’s safe.” DeSantis also invited professional sports leagues, including the MLS, NBA, and MLB, to train and play in Florida to avoid navigating restrictions in their home states. DeSantis: “I’ve already spoke with some of our colleges, like the University of Florida. They got a great football stadium, the Swamp, that’s not used on Sundays. So if an NFL team needs a place to land, we could work that out, too.” Not to be left out, the AAUwill still host its national junior volleyball championship at the Orange County Convention Center in mid-June. 508 teams from 34 states are currently registered for the event, which generated $90-100M for the Central Florida economy last year.
NBA owners and execs are more confident that this season may resume after a call with Commish Silver. ESPN’s Wojnarowski reports the call included discussion about getting teams and players comfortable with the idea that a positive coronavirus test would not shutter the season, with Silver intimating that if it would “shut us down, we probably shouldn’t go down this path.” According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, Silver expects to make a decision on resuming play within the next two to four weeks. Sources also expect that the draft combine and draft lottery, currently scheduled to take place in Chicago, could be held in Las Vegas or Orlando if league play resumes in one or both cities.
The PGA Tour sent players a "Health and Safety Plan" outlining its layered testing approach and health guidelines for when play resumes on June 11. Players and caddies will be sent a pre-travel screening test and undergo a test when they arrive in a tournament city as a requirement for participating in competition. The Tour will provide PPE for all players, caddies, volunteers, and personnel, cover the costs of tests for players and essential personnel, and provide a chartered flight between each tournament site for players who test negative. The PGA is considering three contingency plans for the PGA Championship, scheduled to begin August 6 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco: Plan A is to proceed as normal with fans and corporate hospitality sales; Plan B is a tournament without fans; Plan C is to move the tournament to a new venue, likely one with a pre-existing relationship to broadcast partner CBS Sports. Meanwhile, tour officials confirmed that the Rocket Mortgage Classic at the Detroit Golf Club on July 2-5 will be played without fans.
Professional Bull Ridersexpects to have fans back at its events beginning in July after holding two recent events in Guthrie (Okla.) without an audience.
+ IndyCar released a reshuffled schedule that runs from June 6 to October 25.
+ NASCAR announced five additionalCup Series events for the 2020 season: May 31 at Bristol, June 7 in Atlanta, June 10 in Martinsville, June 14 in Miami, and June 21 at Talladega. All events will be held without fans.
+ The Ironman Kona World Championships have been postponed from October 10 to February 6, 2021. The Ironman 70.3 World Championships, originally scheduled for late November in New Zealand, has been indefinitely postponed and will likely be rescheduled for early 2021.
+ The Erie Sports Commission has canceled 19 events due to COVID-19.
+ The British government has confirmed that the Premier Leaguecan return in June so long as safety can be guaranteed.
NCAA Competition Oversight Committee Chair Tealer on plans for the fall: "The committee intends to conduct Division I fall championship events as scheduled. To the best of our ability we are committed to fair and equitable selection protocol, retaining the same formats, under the same timelines, and at the same previously determined sites. Should we need to adjust our planning, we will communicate those details to the membership." The release also includes the words "nimble" & "fluid."
A three-step reopening plan for Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield (Ind.) includes resuming practices for 100 people per defined space per sport on May 24; resuming modified tournaments for 250 people per defined space per sport on June 14; and resuming all activity on July 4.
More Facilities & Complexes:
+ The TBK Bank Sports Complex in Bettendorf (Iowa) will reopen on Saturday with a limited capacity.
+ The Bluegrass Sportsplex in Elizabethtown (Ky.) will reopen for small groups and low contact sports on June 1.
+ Events DCextended its venue closures until June 8.
News from May 11-12Play Ball?
+ Youth baseball and softball leagues in Nebraska can resume practice on June 1 and games can restart on June 18 with social distancing guidelines for spectators, parents, and players.
+ West Virginia Governor Justice walked back plans to possibly open up non-contact youth sports beginning June 8 and did not commit to a date for reopening gyms.
+ Ohio Governor DeWine has assembled a working group to develop guidance for safely resuming youth sports this summer.
+ Indiana Governor Holcomb will allow gyms, playgrounds, and basketball courts, including the 400-acre Grand Park Youth Sports complex and Pacers Athletic Center, to reopen on May 24, and social gatherings will increase from 25 to 100 people. Also in the Hoosier State, recreational sports leagues and tournaments that adhere to social distancing guidelines and limit attendance to 250 people can resume beginning June 14. Limits on social gatherings will lift on July 4.
+ Arizona Governor Ducey will allow gyms and swimming pools to reopen on Wednesday while major league sports can resume in-state beginning May 15.
+ Pending South Carolina Governor McMaster's orders and state guidelines, sports tourism and events will resume in Myrtle Beach on May 23 and sports-related facilities such as Doug Shaw Stadium and the Myrtle Beach Sports Center will reopen on June 1.
+ Los Angeles County released a more detailed review of its reopening process after Director of Public Health Ferrer was quoted as saying it would last three more months earlier in the day.
On Monday, MLB owners signed off on a plan that would start spring training in early to mid-June and begin the regular season around the Fourth of July. The plan, which was expected to be presented to the player's union on Tuesday, includes 82 regular-season games that features interleague matchups limited to region and expands posteason play from 10 to 14 teams. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on MLB to consult local cities when planning for the season's return, noting that her city is not likely to be ready for "large crowds in a ball field" by July.
NIAID Director Fauci explains that the NFL season’s viability would require testing of every player before every game. He also indicates that it's “feasible” that those who test negative could play in empty stadiums and then if the virus reaches low enough levels, stadiums could open up to a limited capacity; however, much depends on how the country handles an inevitable second outbreak in the fall. “So, practically speaking, the success or failure, the ability or not, to actually have a football season is going to depend on just on what I said ... but what I'm really saying is it's unpredictable depending upon how we respond in the fall.” NFL EVP of FB Operations Vincent tells Quick Hits’ Heinrich that “no one makes up their own rules” and the NFL will issue social distancing and medical safety guidelines based on medical and state and local guidance.
+ USA Gymnasticswill not hold a national championship competition in 2020. The next championship is scheduled for June 3-6, 2021 in Fort Worth (Texas) and the rescheduled Olympic Trials will be held in St. Louis.
+ The 2021 World Baseball Classic will be canceled and might not return until 2023.
+ The Sarasota Power Boat Grand Prix and the St. Clair (Mich.) River Classic have been canceled from the 2020 American Power Boat Association Offshore Championships Series schedule.
+ The NCAAcanceled the College Basketball Academy originally scheduled for July 20-26 in Salt Lake City, Rock Hill (S. Car.), Wichita (Kan.) and Storrs (Conn).
+ The AHL has canceled the remainder of its season, including the playoffs.
+ The Premier League has been given the green light to resume as early as June 1. Matches would be played without fans, and it remains to be determined whether they will be held in home arenas or neutral venues.
The 2020 Crossfit Games, scheduled for July 29-August 2 in Aromas (Calif.), will restrict the number of invited athletes due to "current limitations on social gatherings". The field will be reduced from 332 athletes to 60Top national champions from all eligible countries will not receive an auto-invite and the team portion of the competition has been cut.
Facilities & Complexes
+ The Chickasha (Okla.) Sports Complexwill reopen for tournaments and events beginning Friday. All individuals entering the complex must wear a face mask and certain bleacher rows will be blocked off to assist with physical distancing. Bleachers, dugouts, and bathrooms will be fogged daily with hydrochloric acid.
+ The Kendallville (Ind.) Sports Complex will begin hosting baseball and softball tournaments on June 14. Bathrooms, bleachers, and dugouts will be routinely cleaned with disinfecting spray.
+ A fifth worker on the $5B SoFi Stadium construction project tested positive for COVID-19. According to an internal email, no other employees came in close contact with the worker.
News from May 8-10Three youth baseball tournaments took place over the weekend in Missouri after Governor Parson lifted statewide stay-at-home orders. The "Mother's Day Classic," hosted by GameTime Tournaments, featured 50 teams of players ages 9 through 14 and included social distancing measures that allowed only three kids in a dugout at a time, sanitized balls every half-inning and banned equipment sharing, and required fans to space six feet apart.
Boston Mayor Walsh suspended all events that involve crowds of more than 10 people through September 7 and said it was too early to tell if the Red Sox could play a home game with fans in attendance: "If sports come back with no fans, you can test and somewhat quarantine the players ... Bringing fans back is a different conversation ... it's hard to distance in a baseball park." California Governor Newsom noted it was unlikely that the state will allow large crowds at sporting events without a vaccine: "It's difficult to imagine a stadium that's filled until we have immunity, until we have a vaccine. It's difficult to imagine what the leagues do when one or two of their key personnel or players are tested positive." Maine Governor Mills will allow fitness centers and gyms to open for one-on-one personal training and outdoor classes of 10 people or less beginning May 11 and remote camp sites and sporting camps that feature wilderness activities like canoeing, hiking, and fishing to open beginning May 18.
UFC fighter Souza & two of his corner men tested positive for coronavirus ahead of a fight in Jacksonville. All three were asymptomatic. Souza was removed from the card & the event went on. UFC Prez White: "We administered 1,200 tests this week, on 300 people. It's not unexpected one person would test positive. The system works." President Trump via video message at the beginning of the event: "Get the sports leagues back. Let's play. You do the social distancing and whatever else you have to do. But we need sports. We want our sports back. And, congratulations to Dana White (and the) UFC." Yahoo's Wetzel writes on what we learned from the UFC and how it could impact the NBA, NFL & collegiate sports. Notably, "Someone had to be first and the UFC was willing to do it. Perhaps even more significantly, it didn’t back away because of the presence of a positive test in its ranks. Whether this is wise or foolish for public health can be debated by others. For the sake of sports returning, it was critical. [...] Positive tests will occur. The virus is too prevalent and the numbers of athletes and coaches and support staff too large. No system is going to keep it completely out. The question becomes, does one positive test send a full team or an entire league into another 14-day shutdown, or do you just isolate and power through? The UFC did the latter. The result in the short term was spectacular, a brilliant night of fights."
The PGA's upcoming Memorial Tournament in mid-July will make use of a radio frequency identification chip in event badges to help maintain a health spacing of patrons. Exec. Dir. Sullivan: "At any time we can know around the golf course how many people are collecting in a certain area. We're going to use that technology to make sure that we're protecting everyone around us, protecting the folks that are inside those various venues and make sure that we're monitoring effectively and producing a tournament that everyone can be comfortable with." Other safety protocols include limiting ticket sales and capacity in the clubhouse, removing grandstands, supplying face coverings for staff and volunteers, taking everyone's temperature, no draft beers or fountain drinks for sale, only card payments and plenty of hand sanitizer throughout the property.
Yahoo Sports’ Thamel with a quintet of questions pertinent to college football's return. With many planning for multiple scenarios, a source to Thamel: “A lot of presidents are banking on scientific developments in the next few months.” College Football Playoff Executive Director Hancock says “It’s too soon to speculate,” on how the playoff could look.
NBA Commish Silver talked to the league's players about the reality that fans may not be allowed back in arenas until there's a vaccine. Continues to look at Orlando & Las Vegas as possible restart locations, wants to still have a full playoff structure & notes next season may have to be pushed back to December. The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reports that Disney World appears to have an edge as a bubble city due to its hotel availability and broadcast infrastructure. ESPN's Wojnarowski: "Sources have told ESPN that the league estimates it would need in the neighborhood of 15,000 tests to resume and complete its season." The Orlando Magic, LA Clippers, and LA Lakers have been approved or are expected to administer tests of all players and staff members entering team facilities.
MLS officials are evaluating Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports as a central location to host games without fans for some or all of its 26 teams. Under the plan, teams would complete three to four weeks of training in their home markets before relocating to Orlando to complete its full 34-game regular season and playoffs. Other options include splitting the league by conference to two different host cities such as Orlando, Dallas, or Kansas City. In-depth look from ESPN at the scenarios, with the previously proposed resumption of games date of June 8 now considered "ambitious."
The NFL's2020 schedule is flexible enough to handle any unexpected delays while still featuring a full slate of regular season games, says ESPN's Adam Schefter. Tampa's Raymond James Stadium is also available to host the Super Bowl for weeks after its originally-scheduled February 7 date if the game is postponed. The league's flexibility applies to home stadiums as well, with NFL officials matching the 49ers with the Cardinals, the Chargers with the Raiders, and the Rams with the Cowboys if California stadiums aren't allowed to open in time for the season.
The NHL has return-to-play options down to two scenarios: 1) 24 teams, the top four play for playoff seeding and the bottom teams would have postseason play-in games; 2) 16 teams head straight into playoffs with no regular season games salvaged.
A COVID-19 study of 5,754 MLB employees conducted by Stanford University found that 0.7% of participants tested positive for antibodies. Of those that tested positive, 70% had been asymptomatic. 26 MLB teams participated in the study but the number of players involved is unclear.
The National Athletic Equipment Reconditioning Association warned National Federation of High School officials that the start of the 2020 high school football season might need to be postponed after national stay-at-home orders paused efforts by Riddell, Schutt, and Xenith to recondition and re-certify approximately 2M helmets needed for youth football. NAERA Executive Director Tony Beam: "I think it might be smart to push the seasons’ starts back to September for high schools rather than August, like we see in a lot of cases. That would give everyone some more time. Because one thing is for certain: they definitely can’t play without helmets.”
+ As part of its 2020 schedule realignment, NASCAR will cut a previously postponed Cup Series event at Richmond, along with June events at Chicago and Sonoma. NASCAR will instead run four Cup races at Darlington and Charlotte from May 17-27.
+ The Amateur Trapshooting Associationwill not cancel its annual Grand American tournament but might not be able to host it at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta (Ill.).
+ Fishing League Worldwide's revised 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuitschedule will be reduced from seven regular season events to six.
+ B.A.S.S. released a revised schedule for the Bassmaster Elite Series and Basspro.com Bassmaster Open Series, both of which resume mid-June.
+ The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series will resume with a condensed schedule that features 10 rounds from late July to November.
+ The 2020 Volleyball Nations League, scheduled to begin May 19, has been canceled.
Errata: We have been informed that the Louisiana Resilience Commission recommends a May 16 restart, not June 16, for youth sports. We regret the error.
The Premier Lacrosse League will change its format to a two-week tournament to take place July 25-August 9 at a location TBD in either the mid-Atlantic, Southeast or Midwest. Players and personnel will self-quarantine and be tested prior to their arrival. Tests will be conducted again on arrival and halfway through the tournament, which will take place without fans in the stands. One positive test from any of the less than 300 involved personnel would trigger a postponement of the remainder of the tournament.
The Washington Posts' Goff: "MLS weighing several options for returning to competition, including all teams in Orlandoor splitting between two cities, multiple people tell me. Timetable ~ June/July, with everyone tested and quarantined. At some point, teams would return to home markets for matches." Sporting KC President and CEO Jake Reid wantsMLS to be the first major league in the U.S. to return to action, promoting Kansas City as a potential hub for centralized league play due to its low cases of COVID-19, long-term relationship with league officials, ample hotel space, and access to numerous training and game-ready facilities.
The World Boxing Council released a protocol for the return of professional boxing fights that will take place without spectators. Judges would officiate from home via a live video feed and the number of people allowed in a venue would be limited.
Changes to the 45th Memorial Tournament, rescheduled to begin July 13, include no bleachers, smaller crowd sizes, no draft beer or fountain drinks at concessions, and credit card only purchases. The annual Legends Luncheon fundraiser will be a virtual event but the 4-mile road race is expected to be an in-person event. Tournament executive director Dan Sullivan: "We will not have massive galleries with people all over each other, it's not safe and we won't do it. There will be a limited number of fans."
MLB is expected to share a return-to-play proposal with the MLB Players Association within a week. Officials from approximately a dozen teams have encouraged players to to prepare for a spring training period that could begin as early as June 10 and a season that could begin on July 1. According to sources, the league is leaning towards playing games from home stadiums instead of quarantining all players and teams in one centralized location.
In an interview, tennis star Rafael Nadal expresses doubt about returning to the court in 2020, calling the season "practically lost" and noting that he is focusing instead on the 2021 Australian Open in January.
+ USA Taekwondocanceled its national championships, scheduled for July 1-7 in San Antonio, and announced plans to develop a National Championship Series that would feature three qualifying events in September and October and a final in November.
+ The NTT IndyCar Serieswill open its 2020 season without fans on June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.
+ Big 12 Football media days, scheduled for July 20-21 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, will be held virtually.
+ The 2020 Jennie Finch World Series in Sulphur (La.) has been canceled.
+ Major League Fishingcanceled the 2020 MLF College Faceoffs, a four-tournament series that was set to feature 20 College Fishing teams. The season is expected to return on May 29 with the Abu Garcia College Fishing event in La Crosse (Wisc.).
+ The 2020 Carolina League All-Star Game scheduled for June 23 in Lynchburg (Va.) was canceled.
+ Summer collegiate baseball Northwoods Leagueindefinitely postponed its Opening Day, scheduled for May 26.
News from May 4-5The PLAY Sports Coalitionsecured bipartisan support from four Congressional leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for its request for emergency funding to save the country's youth sports infrastructure. Over 1K community leaders and members of youth and local sports organizations have joined the national advocacy movement to request the development of an $8.5B economic stabilization fund and the creation of a youth sports COVID-19 task force.
Virginia Governor Northam expects that the commonwealth could enter Phase 1 of reopening by May 15, noting that a third of available hospital capacity is open and access to testing has increased. Based on Northam's guidelines for the transition between Phase 1 and Phase 3, which removes the ban on large gatherings, NASCAR races at Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedwaycould not be held until late June at the earliest.
Mississippi Governor Reeves will ease restrictions on restaurants and gatherings, allowing restaurants to offer in-house dining at 50% capacity beginning Thursday. Gatherings of up to 20 people will be permitted in an effort to restart youth sports. Reeves: “This still requires you to be smart and be diligent. If your kids are practicing on a field, stay in your car. Do not gather in groups around each other. Be smart, practice social distancing. This is a good faith step in the right direction.” Operators of outdoor recreational venues such as Sports Force Parks in Vicksburg are attempting to navigate the updated guidelines while safely resuming their tournament and events schedule as soon as possible.
In a media briefing on Tuesday, West Virginia Governor Justice expressed optimism that youth sports will resume for the summer with appropriate social distancing guidelines in place. Justice: “If there’s a way that we can get back to playing Little League baseball this summer I want to get back to playing Little League baseball. If we can get back to playing youth sports I want to do it."
As part of his "Show Me Strong" recovery plan, Missouri Governor Parson will allow residents to attend live events, including concerts, as long as seating is spaced according to social distancing requirements. Larger cities such as Kansas City, Springfield, and St. Louis are planning to keep their "Stay Home" orders in effect until further notice.
According to The MMQB's Albert Breer, insiders from two NFL teams estimate that clubs could lose up to $100M in local revenue if the season is played without fans in the stands. While the season is reportedly expected to start on September 10 with 16 games over 17 weeks, Breer notes that the schedule and Super Bowlcould be pushed back to allow for the return of a live audience. Miami Dolphins President/CEO Tom Garfinkel released mock-up plans for how Hard Rock Stadium could host fans while adhering to social distancing guidelines. The stadium is the first public facility to earn the Global Biorisk Advisory Council's STARaccreditation, ensuring compliance with guidelines for the highest standards of cleanliness. Fans would follow a schedule to enter and exit the stadium "much like a church environment," according to Garfinkel, and be required to wear masks and order food from their seat rather than stand in a concessions line. Hard Rock's occupancy would also be reduced from 65K fans to 15K fans. USA Today’s Wolken applauds the Dolphins’ proactive and public approach even if they don’t use parts of it. “In fact, every team and league and event needs to start crafting these policies and preparing fans for how watching live sports could be achieved in the new normal.”
ESPN has released the results of a fan study to gauge attitudes regarding COVID-19’s impact on sports moving forward. Nearly twice as many fans would prefer to watch televised sporting events without crowds (65%) than those who believe sports should only restart when fans can experience the game in person (35%). Also, 76% say that they support the return of sports without fans in the stands if players were kept in hotels and their contact with others was closely monitored.
According to a survey over over 2K North Americans conducted by Enigma Research, 80% of sports fans reported being "extremely," "very," or "somewhat" likely to travel to live sporting events once large gatherings resume. Enigma senior partner Michael Harker: “The majority of people who like going to an event and are used to going to an event are ready to come back. But I don’t think we’re going to achieve 100 percent right out of the gate and I think event organizers need to know that.” Among the survey findings, 94% of respondents "very much" or "somewhat" miss attending live events and half of participants noted they would return to live events within two weeks of events resuming while only 8% of respondents reported that they would not attend live events due to COVID-19 concerns.
+ The Korn Ferry Tour announced a "wraparound" schedule that combines 23 remaining 2020 events with the 2021 season. The season will restart on June 8 with the Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) and the first four events will be closed to the public.
+ The 2020 Jr. Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Honolulu is canceled, with the next edition taking place in Hawaii in Summer 2022.
+ World TeamTennis will scrap it's multi-city format for a single host city beginning July 12.
+ The 2021 WBSC Women's Softball World Cup will be postponed to 2023.
+ USA Roller Sportspostponed this year's national championship, but will move all future events forward one year. The 2021 national championship will be held in Cedar Rapids (Iowa) and the 2022/2023 championships will be held in Lincoln (Neb.).
+ USA Cycling postponed a trio of summer events scheduled to be held in Knoxville (Tenn.), Florida and Winter Park (Colo.).
+ USA Ultimate will consider hosting a combined DI and DIII College Championships event in November or December. The event would be held in a warm weather location such as Florida, Texas, or California.
+ US Sailingcanceled the 2020 U.S. Youth Sailing Championship, originally scheduled for June 20-24 in Pensacola.
+ The Great Lakes Grand Prix, originally scheduled for July 30-August 2 in Michigan City (Ind.), has been canceled.
+ The American Athletic Conference will move its Football Media Days scheduled for Newport (R.I.) to a virtual format. Conference USA will do the same for its event initially slated for Frisco (Texas).
+ The NFL will not play internationally in 2020, relocating five scheduled international matchups to domestic locations. Four games were scheduled to be played in London and one in Mexico City.
MLS will allow players to begin voluntary individual workouts at the league's outdoor training facilities as early as Wednesday. Workouts must be in compliance with the league's health and safety protocols and comply with local public health policies. Equipment sharing will not be permitted and locker rooms, training rooms, and gyms will not be available for use.
News from May 1-3In an analysis for ESPN that spanned "from stadium authorities to youth sports complexes, from rec centers to global TV networks," economists have estimated at least $12B in revenue and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost due to COVID-19's impact on the sports industry. It is also noted that these losses "will more than double" should college football and the NFL not proceed as planned this fall. The study continues by examining multiple facets of the industry including youth sports, which has seen "nearly 700,000 athletes unable to participate in scheduled events in March alone, costing organizers more than $700 million." In spite of staggering numbers, analysts say these estimates are "conservative," as they do not include "projected losses from NASCAR, golf, tennis and several minor sports and gambling" or "losses in the outdoor recreation industry, including hunting, skiing, recreational golf, tennis and fishing."
The NCAA has released guidelines for the return of sports. Chief Medical Officer Hainline outlines the nine core principles of resocialization: national, state, and local plans for resocialization, institutional plans for resocialization for students and student-athletes, adequate PPE, ability to assess immunity at a regional and local level, access to reliable, rapid testing, local surveillance systems to identify new cases, and transparent risk analyses. The plan also includes three phases, each lasting minimum of 14 days. Of note: “Once COVID-19 infection rates diminish for at least 2 weeks, resocialization of society and sport may be possible.” Hainline: “It is also important to take into consideration that there will not be a quick, single day of re-emergence into society. We will re-emerge in a manner that recognizes COVID-19 will be around until there is an effective vaccine, treatment or both. That is why resocialization should be rolled out in a phased way that helps assure sustained low infection spread, as well as aids in the ability to quickly diagnose and isolate new cases.”
Similar to the NCAA, World Triathlonapproved COVID-19 prevention guidelines for event organizers. Best practices include the "monitoring of participants' health at events and the daily taking of body temperatures" and the wearing of masks and gloves when in non-competition activities. The international federation also noted on-going conversations with event organizers to stage a "smaller series" of events later in 2020.
MGM Resorts Internationalhas crafted an "audacious proposal" to enable the NBA, WNBA, NHL and MLS to house their athletes and necessary support staff to hold their seasons on the Las Vegas Strip. Leaked proposals suggest "a fully quarantined campus where players would live and play out whatever schedule the leagues want. The athletes would be joined by their families, league and broadcast media employees, as well as the staff and vendors needed to serve them, with access to lounges, spas, restaurants and all the other perks the resorts offer." The pitch to the NBA is centered around the Mandalay Bay resort, which has 4,700 rooms at three connected hotels, and the ability to hold "as many as 24 basketball courts."
Plans for the Major League Baseball season continue to evolve, as reports suggest the league "hopes to fill a schedule of at least 80 games" that would commence in "late June or early July with as many teams as possible playing in home parks." Earlier suggestions of the Florida/Arizona/Texas hub-based schedule have now been "downplayed or dismissed."
+ The NFL is expected to "complete their entire season in America." Four games had been planned for London and one for Mexico City.
+ The NBA confirmed rumors that the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery and 2020 NBA Draft Combine have been "delayed indefinitely," though the 2020 NBA Draft itself has yet to be postponed.
+ The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is targeting a reopening by the "middle of June or by the Fourth of July." If successful, the enshrinement of the Class of 2020 would proceed as planned for August 29.
+ Reports suggest that the 2020 U.S. Opencould be on the move to Indian Wells (Calif.). The USTA suggests that it will "know more in June."
+ Peach Bowl Inc. says "right now everything is in place" for its three Kickoff Games at Mercedes-Benz Stadiumto be played as scheduled in Atlanta.
+ Epic Games is moving all physical Fortnite competitions for the remainder of 2020 to online-only platforms and has determined that the 2020 Fortnite World Cup "will not be held in any capacity."
+ The Evo 2020 tournament at Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegashas been canceled, though organizers are working on an online replacement event.
+ Formula Ehas canceled the New York E-Prix, previously scheduled for July 11.
+ The New England Collegiate Baseball Leaguewill not play its 2020 season.
The site of the 2020 PGA Championship, TPC Harding Park, plans to officially re-open today. The tournament, which was initially slated for May 14-17, is now scheduled for August 6-9.
News from April 29-30The USOPC issued a comprehensive events planning guide for national governing bodies, including protocols for how athletes should return to training. Best practices for event planning include selecting a host location with limited or no active COVID-19 transmissions; appointing a medical director for each event; having participants travel to a venue 14 days before competition begins; and requiring individuals to have two negative tests separated by 24 hours before they're allowed to compete.
While Japanese medical officials expressed doubt that Tokyo 2020 could be held without the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, Tokyo 2020 Coordination Committee head John Coates asserts that the Games can happen without one: "The advice we're getting from WHO says we should continue to plan for this date and that is what we're doing, and that's not contingent on a vaccine."
Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that NBA officials are considering using Disney World as a "bubble city" from which it can resume the season based on its proximity to Orlando Magic facilities, access to hotels and courts, and broadcast readiness. Meanwhile, team executives and players' agents have reportedly starting calling on the league to cancel the season, citing liability issues, financial losses, and governmental challenges as insurmountable road blocks. LeBron James pushes back in a tweet: “Saw some reports about execs and agents wanting to cancel season??? That’s absolutely not true. Nobody I know saying anything like that. As soon as it’s safe we would like to finish our season. I’m ready and our team is ready. Nobody should be canceling anything.” And while the draft lottery is currently scheduled for May 19, the league is expected to postpone the 2020 Draft until late August or September.
Gilead Sciences’ treatment Remdesivir shows promise, according to NIAID Director Fauci, who calls it a “proof of concept that...a drug that can block this virus." However, while "the data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," it should not be viewed as a cure. CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Cohen: "There is a legitimate fear that people will hear about this drug and will think, 'Oh my goodness, there is a cure. We don't need to worry about it. We don't need to social distance.' That's not the case. It cut the duration of the illness basically by four days. That's important and it shows that the drug works and it allows scientists to do further research in this area. But we haven't seen remdesivir save lives yet."
Big 12 Commish Bowlsby: "We will be very, very lucky to start on Labor Day weekend and get through the football season without disruptions. [...] I think with the warmer weather I think we’ll get back to campus and we’ll get to practicing and we’ll start the season. We may not start exactly on time but I think we’ll start the season. I worry more about the end of the season and the postseason than I do the beginning parts of the season but I think we’ll figure it out in the near term. If the virus comes roaring back in the traditional flu and virus season in December through March, I wonder if we’re going to get basketball seasons in. I wonder if we’re going to get the CFP in. I wonder if we’re going to get the NCAA Tournament in."
Senior MLB officials tell Fox Business they are near certain games will be played in 2020 as details are being hashed out. The league is closely monitoring New York Governor Cuomo’s timeline for giving the nod to the Yankees and Mets to open for games.
NASCARwill indeed resume on May 17 with seven races in 11 days, including four Cup Series events. Three races will be held at Darlington Raceway and four will be at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Only licensed NASCAR team members will be allowed into the racetrack and will be required to wear cloth face masks and teams will be limited to 16 members, including the driver. While teams will not receive tests, they will undergo random temperature checks and will be asked to keep a contact tracing log.
Kentucky Governor Beshear announced a return to horse racing without fans beginning May 11, allowing Churchill Downs to reopen stable areas at the Racetrack and auxiliary training center under a phased approach. Opening day of the 2020 Spring Meet is officially set for May 16.
+ The LPGA Tourupdated its 2020 slate, rescheduling all June events and resuming play at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Michigan from July 15-18. Rescheduled events include the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, now taking place Aug 28-30; the Marathon Classic in Ohio, now taking place July 23-26; and the KPMG Women's Golf Championship in Pennsylvania, now taking place Oct 8-11.
+ Little League Internationalcanceled all regional championships and the Little League World Series.
+ The Mountain West Conference will hold its football media days, originally scheduled for Los Angeles, on a virtual platform.
+ Minor League Baseballdispelled rumors that the 2020 season was cancelled, tweeting that no decision has been made about when it will be safe to start the season.
+ The Gold Wing Road Riders AssociationcanceledWing Ding 42, its annual motorcycle rally that was scheduled to take place in Springfield (Mo.) from June 30-July 4 while the Mid-American Street Rod Nationals scheduled to take place in Springfield from May 22-24 will be postponed.
+ The World Para Athletics Championships in Kobe, Japan will be postponed from its original 2021 dates to Aug 26-Sept 4, 2022 to avoid a scheduling conflict with the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
+ The NBA 2K League will start its regular season on May 5 with all 23 teams competing remotely.
ASM Global launched VenueShield, an environmental hygiene protocol that will meet evolving guest expectations for cleanliness and safety at each of its convention centers, arenas, stadiums, and theaters around the world. New procedures will address issues such as food safety, air quality control, surface cleaning, and social/physical distancing will meeting the specific needs of each venue.
Texas Governor Abbott's stay-at-home order will expire on Thursday, allowing malls, movie theaters, and restaurants to open at 25% capacity on Friday. Outdoor sports like golf and tennis can resume with four or less participants. Businesses such as salons and barber shops, massage establishments, bowling alleys, and tattoo parlors are not permitted to open until mid-May. Road and air travelers from Louisiana will not be required to observe a 14-day quarantine but travelers from hotspots such as New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit will.
Missouri Governor Parson will end the ban on large gatherings when the state begins to reopen on May 4, allowing events in large venues and stadiums such as concerts, graduations, and weddings to resume. Local governments may implement stricter guidelines, meaning stay-at-home orders will remain in place until May 15 for Kansas City and Jackson County.
Latest perspective from NIAID Director Anthony Fauci on when we may see sports back in action, "Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything. If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, 'We may have to go without this sport for this season.' [...] We’ve got to make sure that when we try to get back to normal, including being able to play baseball in the summer and football in the fall and basketball in the winter, that when we do come back to some form of normality, we do it gradually and carefully. And when cases do start to rebound — which they will, no doubt — that we have the capability of identifying, isolating and contact tracing. [...] In other words, we said that for baseball, get the players in Major League Baseball, get a couple of cities and a couple of hotels, get them tested and keep them segregated. I know it’s going to be difficult for them not to be out in society, but that may be the price you pay if you want to play ball."
The NFL is prepared to alter its schedule, if needed, per SBJ’s Ourand and Fischer, who report that the league’s schedule-makers “are in the process of designing a 2020 season that has several different wrinkles.” The schedule, which will be released next month, will be designed to include contingencies based on the state of the coronavirus. Scenarios include a five-week delay, which would push back the Super Bowl by three weeks, while another would rotate two weeks of early-season games to the back end of the schedule. Both plans include eliminating the idle week between the conference championships and the Super Bowland doing away with the Pro Bowl.
The Professional Bull Riders tour hosted its first event since the start of its COVID-19 shutdown over the weekend in Guthrie (Okla.), allowing riders to compete for television audiences in front of empty stands. Competitors went through a security checkpoint and medical screening and were provided with custom masks, protective gloves, and safety glasses. All equipment was sanitized after each use. (Link also notes that most youth sports leagues in Tennessee have postponed play until mid- to late-summer.)
MLB is reportedly considering a late June/early July start in which teams would play 100 regular season games without fans. The plan would also realign the league into three 10-team divisions and teams would play only opponents within their divisions. Obviously wouldn't bode well for All-Star Game scheduled to be held in Los Angeles. The league is currently allowing teams to release individual ticket refund policies after changing an earlier policy that classifies missed games as postponed rather than canceled.
While the NHL considers resuming the season in up to four locations, criteria for a host venue includes a game-ready NHL arena that features four dressing rooms to allow for multiple games each day and broadcasting infrastructure as well as a "friendly" host city that isn't dealing with an influx of COVID-19 cases. According to insiders, Raleigh's PNC Arena, St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, and Toronto's Scotiabank Arena are possible contenders.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force held a call with representatives from major sports leagues, including the NCAA, NFL, NHL NBA and MLB, as well as a dozen others regarding reopening President Trump’s plan to reopen the country. Bloomberg’s Novy-Williams reports that the task force “underscored the importance of the private sector finding innovative ways to allow sports to return while keeping athletes, coaches, staff, and fans healthy and safe."
Japan Medical Association head Yoshitake Yokokura warns that the Tokyo Olympicsare unlikely to take place without the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
+ North Carolina Gov. Cooper will allowNASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 to take place without fans at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24. According to NASCAR's most recent schedule, racing will resume on May 17 at South Carolina's Darlington Speedway.
+ The Baseball Hall of Fame is expected to postpone its 2020 induction ceremony until 2021. The rescheduled event will combine the 2020 and 2021 classes into one ceremony.
+ The 2020 Midwest League All-Star Game is postponed, but will return toBowling Green (Ky.) in 2021.
The City of Fort Meyerswill reopen baseball fields and outdoor tennis and pickleball courts for groups of 10 or less beginning today. Indoor recreation centers, pools, playgrounds, pavilions, multipurpose fields, volleyball courts, and basketball courts will remain closed and bleachers at all locations are closed.
It appears as if NASCAR will resume its season without fans on May 17 at Darlington Raceway. Sources have said that in order for a race to happen the teams would need to be in their shops by May 1 and it appears that is a possibility with North Carolina Gov. Cooper stating it as an essential business with proper social distancing. It is not clear whether a full weekend of events will occur or just the NASCAR Cup series race.
The PGA Tour is planning to resume in June in Fort Worth (Texas) and, as the Tour is gearing back up, there are still plenty of questions about how the tournaments will operate when it comes to topics such as broadcasting and volunteers. Tournaments are losing a lot of money from a loss in ticket sales, and no food and beverage sales, but pro-am's are a big money item that on average results in $30K per foursome. Sponsors in some cases are also hurting and asking for deferrals or repayments and the trickle-down effect could cause a reduction in purses. When looking at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Tour had 13 full-time workers and three seasonal workers at the event, and they were joined by over 2.3K volunteers. The need for that many volunteers will drop, but it will determine what is considered vital to running an event.
For the first time in 25 years, the Summer X Gameshave been canceled. This year's event was the final year of a four-year contract with Minneapolis. According to Sports Minneapolis executive director Melvin Tennant, the event generated close to $50M annually in economic impact, and it was embraced by the city. The Minneapolis Skate Park Activity Plan in 2018 laid out a 20-year plan to increase the number of skate parks in the city.
News from April 22-23President Trump during his presser yesterday, "Your stadiums are gonna be the way they’ve been for the last 100 years. Sports will be the way they used to be. I told one of the owners, he said, ‘Do you think I should take out seats?’ I said, ‘No, you shouldn’t take out seats.’ ..." (link - tweet, link - full transcript)
A new round of job cuts, furloughs and reduced pay is expected to impact about one-third of Endeavor Group Holdings’ 7,500 employees. The cuts are being implemented across the company’s business units. UFC employees are exempt from the cuts, since its rights agreements are still paying out.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has extended the state's stay-at-home order through May 8, but he is consideringNASCAR's request to run the Coca-Cola 600 at the end of May as scheduled. For racing to occur, teams will need access to their shops for prep and Cooper believes if they can do so while maintaining social distancing then they may be able to compete.
Even though the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo have already been moved, the uncertainty in returning to action has caused some to speculate that the games could be altered again. Richard Pound, the longest serving member of the IOC, spoke to the Canadian Broadcasting Company and suggested that 2021 would be the only remaining window for Tokyo to host the Games. Pound: “The Japanese have said we can keep the ball up in the air for a year, but not longer than a year.”
News from April 20-21Tennessee's stay-at-home order will expire on April 30 and a majority of businesses will re-open beginning May 1. Governor Lee's Economic Recovery Group will work with major metropolitan counties to plan specific re-open strategies. Georgia Governor Kemp announced plans to allow gyms, bowling alleys, salons, and related indoor facilities to resume operation beginning Friday while restaurants and theaters will be allowed to reopen April 27. Hospitals will be permitted to resume elective surgeries and in-person religious services will resume. All re-opened businesses will be required to comply with safety and social distancing standards. Local governments will not be permitted to impose their own restrictions on businesses.
North Carolina Governor Cooper will announce plans to ease stay-at-home restrictions later this week, potentially allowing NASCAR teams to reopen their N.C.-based shops and return to racing without fans at the Charlotte Motor Speedway over Memorial Day weekend. Other states open to hosting NASCAR events include Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage recently expressed interest in hosting an IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader on the weekend of June 6.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Fauci says the country would have to pass multiple phases before he’d walk into a ballpark or stadium, and even after the third phase he says there would have to be a degree of physical separation. “I’d have to be in a city where the level of infection is so low, that if someone gets infected, that...health department has the capability of identifying, isolating, and contact tracing so that person does not inadvertently infect someone else. Even with that, I cannot see a return this year to what we consider ‘normal.’ … I think quite likely, although it’s always dangerous to predict, I think it’s more likely that you’re going to have more of a television baseball than a spectator baseball.”
Over 400 community and national sports organizations have now signed on to form PLAY (Promoting Local and Youth) Sports to call on Congress to create an $8.5B economic stabilization fund for the youth sports industry and the development of a youth sports COVID-19 Task Force. Funds would be distributed with priority given to programs supporting under-served communities, youths with disabilities, and female athletes and include reimbursement for lost expenses and support for employee and contractual-related operational expenses.
Sports Facilities Management, which manages 23 sports complexes in 20 states, estimates a displacement of 330 events from its facilities for a loss of $2.4M in revenue. The events were expected to generate over $80M in direct spending for host communities. Venue and event operators have been forced to "wait and hope" as families suffer from a loss of discretionary income and reconsider participation in team or close-contact sports until a vaccine is available.
The Athletic’s Mandel outlines what a potential winter football season would look like, starting with a November decision by college presidents and chancellors to hold in-person classes again in January. Mandel also notes that COVID-19 testing would have to be prevalent enough to test all members of a football program; attendance would remain limited, if allowed at all; and the NFL would have to have started on time in order for its stadiums to be mostly available by January. This scenario would be dependent on the NFL holding its 2021 draft in the spring, and even then Mandel notes there would be challenges, such as the cold weather in Upper Midwest and other places, health concerns with student-athletes playing an extended number of games in a 52-week period, and TV scheduling. In addition, there would only be room for 10 regular season games.
The latest from notable ESPN football analyst Herbstreit, who points to conversations with a number of leaders on the possibility of a February through May season with the College Football Playoff in June, "I think (it would be) a last-ditch effort. But I think it just proves how willing the administrators are -- the NCAA, the conference commissioners, ADs and presidents -- to have a college football season. They’re going to do everything they can, if it comes to that extreme, to be able to potentially have a 2020 season." On a related note, CFP Executive Director Hancock with the SEC Network’s Finebaum, “Expansion of the [College Football] Playoff is not being considered this season... There has not been any talk about it at all."
The NBA will "continue to wait" to determine a timeline for a potential return after meeting with infectious disease specialist David Ho, according to Commissioner Adam Silver. Team owners appeared "determined" to finish the season after the league's Board of Governor's meeting on Friday, acknowledging that an increase in testing availability and a decline in new infections must be in place before the league restarts.
Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel dismisses arguments that the IOC would strip China of its 2022 Winter Olympic hosting duties as punishment for its "lack of transparency" during the early days of the COVID outbreak, noting that the IOC has never shown concern about politics and is already in an economic crisis over the 2020 Summer Olympics.
+ The 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Track and Field Trialswill take place June 18-27, 2021, in Eugene (Ore.), approximately one year after the originally-scheduled dates.
+ The World Series of Poker will be rescheduled. The Las Vegas-based event was originally scheduled for May 26-July 15.
+ The 18th annual Native American Basketball Invitational, scheduled for June 21-27 in Phoenix, has been canceled.
+ The Professional Fighters Leaguerescheduled its 2020 season for Spring 2021.
+ The National Gay Football Leaguewill not host the 20th Gay Bowl, originally scheduled for October in Hawaii. NAGAAA still plans to hold the Gay Softball World Series in Columbus (Ohio) this August.
+ According to sources, the Monster Energy Supercross Series could resume its 2020 season in May at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.
+ The Scripps National Spelling Beecanceled its 2020 national finals. The 2021 event will be held June 1-3 in National Harbor (Md.).
+ The U.S. Department of Treasury approved and distributed $2.9B in initial Payroll Support Program payments for Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, Spirit Airlines, and United.
+ United reported a $2.1B Q1 loss and has applied for $4.5B in federal loans on top of the $5B in payroll grants and loans it expects to receive. The airline's first quarter revenue fell 17% from one year ago to $8B.
+ After dropping into the negative, U.S. oil futures rose 20% as contracts for May delivery expired while Brent crude prices steadied.
Correction: The likely-to-be-postponed USA Cycling mountain bike nationals are slated to be held inWinter Park (Colo.), not Winter Park (Fla.). We regret the error.
News from April 17-19AP piece with insight from industry leaders on youth sports participation, which will surely be impacted by rising unemployment filings, including how AAU went from membership being 20K ahead of last year's pace to 3K behind in just a week. Per Prez Roger Goudy: "If we don't crank up, I'd say, by the first of May, we're going to see some tremendous losses simply because we're not going to have time for those events that have qualifiers." US Youth Soccer CEO Skip Gilbert says that for staff and parents "you want to be as hopeful as possible," but "when you're looking at the ceiling at 2 in the morning going, you know, playing the 'what if' scenarios, you're worried." Sports Facilities Advisory founder/CEO Dev Pathik is blunt: "There will be facilities that don't make it. There will be sports organizations that don't make it. And I think in most cases, it's safe to say that those will be primarily facilities or organizations that just are smaller and weren't built to weather this thing, which is a large percentage of organizations." As such, Pathik sees an increased role for NGBs and pro sports leagues, which want to continue to foster fandom from a young age.
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell echoed the statements of fellow mayors in major cities across the country when she said she didn’t believe the city would be able to host major events in 2020 and that they need to look forward to 2021. How does that relate to events such as Saints games? “I know that the NFL is working very hard to determine methods of re-engagement, like no fans present. I think that is the best way to go, but I know they're working very hard as it relates to not only the players but the staff that is required to even host a sporting event.”
The PGA Tour is less than two months away from its scheduled return to play and commissioner Jay Monahan expressed the number one priority is the safety of players, caddies, tournament personal and others that make up the Tour’s ecosystem. “We’re going to need to be able to test players, caddies and other constituents before we return, but we need to do so in a way that’s not going to take away from the critical need that we’re currently facing, and we feel confident, based on the advice that we’re getting from medical experts, that we’ll be in that position … We’re going to need rapid-response, large-scale testing. The continued emergence of testing and new testing protocols is very encouraging, and we, like other sports, are spending a lot of time relying on experts and identifying the resources that we need to come back in a safe and responsible way. This is as important as the schedule itself.” The first scheduled tournament back is the Charles Schwab Challenge, and tournament director Michael Tothe shared in an interview with ESPN that he is feeling the pressure to get the event done right. “It's scary ... it's daunting because I want to make sure we do it right. I know the PGA Tour wants to make sure they do it right, so I hope we're a benchmark and I hope we're an opportunity for people to get back to normal.”
An Outbreak Prevention Taskforce has been created by World Athletics and the International Institute for Race Medicine to provide guidelines for endurance events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stephane Bermon, director of the health and science department at World Athletics: "We are forming this taskforce to bring together key representatives from all parts of the endurance sports world to help find solutions and create viable and appropriate guidelines for participants of mass sports events, event staff, volunteers, and the community at large … COVID-19 has been the stimulus for the formation of this taskforce, however, many event organisers have also had to deal with Norovirus and other contagious diseases during the staging of events and this taskforce will help create guidelines to help reduce the risk of infection."
Utah Sports Commission President/CEO Jeff Robbins, who was a member of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games organizing committee for Salt Lake City, could sympathize when the news came down about the Tokyo Olympic Games being postponed. Five months prior to the Salt Lake games, 9/11 happened, and similar to the coronavirus pandemic, things paused: "It is probably a lesson to say, ‘OK, you know, we really, really need to be prepared and really prepared because, you know, we had 9/11 last [Olympics]. Who would have thought?’ And you never know, 99% of the time history will prove that out, that there's never an issue like that. But if you are that 1%, it becomes a pretty big, big deal." Because the postponement of the Summer Games will cost Japan billions of dollars, Cindy Crane, chairwoman of the local committee for Salt Lake City's next games, will be keeping a close eye on expenses. "You know, one of the smartest things you can do is adapt lessons learned. We're starting with a very, very tight, conservative budget from a standpoint of this is, you know, no frills. This is about the athletes, not about a showcase. … We'll stay focused on those principles. And, you know, as our primary guide, obviously, we'll look at every avenue as far as how do we protect against these variables if they were to happen? Can we contractually protect [ourselves], you know, and those types of things."
In an interview with SportsTravel, Molly Arbogast, President and CEO of POV Sports Marketing, shares her insights on how to engage sponsors during the current pandemic. "It's important for brands to feel that love from these other property brands that they are investing in. That can also be very high level outreach at this point from those folks, I think is very good. And for a senior person at a team to reach out to senior people at a sponsor and say, 'We want you to know we're thinking about you. We know this is an unimaginable time for our nation and planet, for that matter, and we're committed to this community like you are, so as we start to flatten the curve in certain markets and come out of this lets talk about how we can help our communities heal."
+ The Laver Cup has been moved back to September 2021, with the event remaining at TD Garden in Boston.
+ The 2020 Reebok CrossFit Gameswill not occur in Madison (Wis.) this year. The plan is to host a scaled-down version in Aromas (Calif.), the home of the CrossFit Games.
+ USA Cycling is anticipating having to postpone most of its national championship events this summer, including the mountain bike nationals in Winter Park (Fla.).
+ The FLW Pro Circuit event that is expected to bring 50 anglers to Massena (N.Y.) in August remains on as scheduled.
+ The Professional Disc Golfers Association has canceled the organization’s Junior World Championships that was set to convene in Emporia (Kan.).
News from April 15-16Here's a look at the White House packet enumerating steps to be taken to reopen the country. The first phase would allow large venues to open under “strict physical distancing protocols.” The second phase would allow such venues to operate under moderate distancing protocols. The third and final phase would allow large venues to operate under limited distancing protocols. In all three phases, gyms could reopen but must adhere to various levels of sanitary protection.
Full transcript of President Trump's presser yesterday evening on the reopening of the economy. Notably, "Our normal is if you have 100,000 people in an Alabama football game or 110,000 to be exact, we want 110,000 people there. We want every seat occupied. Normal is not going to be where you have a game with 50,000 people. [...] I spoke to the commissioners yesterday almost I guess of every sport, and many of them are going to be starting without the fans. So, it will be made for television, the good old days made for television, and it’ll go that way. And then, fans will start coming in, maybe they’ll be separated by two seats and then ultimately we want to have packed arenas when the virus is gone." National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases Director Fauci: "I think we’ll be able to have sports events in that phase where you actually have participants there. I’m not sure you’re going to be able to do that uniformly and evenly temporally with everyone. But when people get to that phase, paying attention to the fact that if there is a rebound of any sort, that when you’re in that phase, you can respond to that or you put it back and go in the other way. So, the flexibility is that there may be some setbacks. Let’s face it, this is uncharted water."
Fauci previously explained how playing large sporting events without fans may actually work, depending on how quickly organizations can procure large amounts of tests. “There’s a way of doing that. Nobody comes to the stadiums. Put (athletes) in big hotels, wherever you want to play. Keep them very well-surveilled, but have them tested like every week and make sure they don't wind up infecting each other or their families and just let them play the season out."
Sports Illustrated legal expert McCann: "States and other governing bodies have crafted numerous pandemic restrictions, often with unique definitions and divergent policies. Each will decide when to lift their restrictions, when to alter them and whether they ought to be re-imposed in the event of new outbreaks. The country therefore isn’t going to restart at the same moment, no matter how appealing that sounds. Certain pockets of the country will resume activities in modified ways, such as re-opening of certain types of businesses while continuing to mandate adherence to social (physical) distancing. As a result, in some parts of the country, business meetings and grade school classes that were previously held in person might occur through video conferencing for the foreseeable future. [...] The restarting of our economy will reflect a patchwork that might necessitate starts-and-stops depending on the trajectory of infections and the varying availability of key medicines, supplies and equipment." Lots more on the role of the federal government & President Trump's Sports Advisory Committee.
Big 12 Commish Bowlsby intimates that FBS commissioners, College Football Playoff Executive Director Hancock and Notre Dame AD Swarbrick were clear in their message to Vice President Pence that there will not be a football season until students are allowed back on campus. “Our message was, we need to get universities and colleges back open, that we were education-based programs, and we weren't going to have sports until we had something closer to normal college going on. … I think he appreciated hearing our thoughts.” Hancock adds: “As you might expect, the vice president talked about getting the country back on its feet as soon as possible. He recognizes the need to protect the safety of the athletes. We are planning for a CFP this year, and I was glad to know that Mr. Pence understands how important college football is.”
Keith Smith, a former Walt Disney Company employee, shared on Yahoo! Sports why the NBA should considerWalt Disney World if it decides to resume the season by bringing all of its teams to one location. Smith says not only does Disney World have the rooms, but it has the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex nearby which is already set up for broadcasting and hosting multiple games at one time.
United Airlines has cut its flight schedule by 90% for May and expects similar cuts for June. In a memo to employees, leadership told its employees that it may have to cut payroll after Sept. 30.
News from April 13-14The National Council of Youth Sports and travel event organizer Triple Crown Sports are leading an effort to request an $8.5B federal relief fund for the youth sports industry. Approximately 113 organizations, including USA Football, US Lacrosse, and Pop Warner, have signed a letter requesting federal funding to offset tournament and event cancellations, support the development of new policies to address COVID-19 risks, and invest in targeted grant programs.
USA Triathlon is leading the Endurance Sports Coalitionto advocate for a federal relief package for organizers and operators of over 50K annual endurance events across the country. The coalition, which includes USA Cycling, Spartan, Ironman, Tough Mudder, Running USA, and the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series, plans to use funding to retain employees, pay suppliers, and resume hosting events once restrictions are lifted.
New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware have formed a regional advisory board to coordinate COVID-19 mitigation efforts and guide the process of “reopening” once the coronavirus pandemic passes. Washington, Oregon and California have formed the Western States Pact to take a joint approach to reopening the economy.
Forbes is running a list of state-by-state reopen dates, noting that several cities will remain closed after their statewide stay-at-home order ends.
Socios, a blockchain-based fan voting and rewards app, developed an "immunity verification tool" in an effort to accelerate the return of fans to sporting events. Socios Pass will allow individuals to upload personal documents, such as a digital immunity certificate from their local health authority, to a free Socios.com account. Once verified, the mobile Socios Pass would provide users with a QR code that could be scanned by stadium security.
Law360 points to potential lawsuits from fans if major sports leagues are unable to resume competition this year and do not refund tickets. Zimmerman Reed LLP Sports Litigator Gudmundson: "If you pay money for a product or service and you are not provided that product or service, I would certainly think you have a right to a refund under any contract theory. In various contexts, the professional sporting world likes to call tickets licenses that can be revoked at any time for any reason, but I don't think that extends to canceling tickets without a refund. ... There is a lot more that is going to be said, so it would behoove everyone to do the right thing, particularly if there are government programs made available to make some of these companies whole."
Extra Points purveyor Brown with a piece that focuses on college football, but this nugget that applies across the spectrum: “What if, hypothetically, we learn in a few months that COVID-19 really WAS a product of some sort of lab accident, rather than from animals? Then it’s not an Act of God anymore.” Furthermore, parties seeking to invoke cancellation clauses, including force majeure clauses, may wind up waiting years for those claims to process."
The PGA Tour is set to announce a return date and some believe the season could resume mid-June at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Full potential schedule for the rest of the season is included. PGA of America CEO Waugh expressed optimism that the 2020 PGA Championship will take place in some form at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from August 6-9. While hosting the tournament with fans is "Plan A," organizers are prepared to hold a "made for TV," fan-less event with less than 1K people on site. Waugh: "We think the world is starved for some entertainment, and particularly in sports. We think golf has the unique ability to be first out in sports in that we're played over a couple hundred acres and naturally have social distancing." Waugh also notes that the event could be moved to another state if California is unable to host, which aligns with recent comments about mass gatherings made by Governor Newsom,
The WWE has been deemed an "essential business" by Florida Governor DeSantis and will continue taping and broadcasting events from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando during the state's month-long shelter-in-place order. During a recent press conference, DeSantis expressed support for hosting a televised NASCAR or golf event to entertain viewers "starved for content."
NBA Commissioner Silver, MLB Commissioner Manfred, NFL Commissioner Goddell, NHL Commissioner Bettman, New England Patriots owner Kraft, Dallas Cowboys owner Jones, Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban, UFC President White, and WWE CEO McMahon are among the executives advising President Trump on how to restart and reopen the U.S. economy.
Victor Montagliani, Concacaf President and vice chair of North America's 2026World Cup organizing committee, reports that the original timeline for selecting World Cup host venues has been delayed due to COVID-19, as a mid-March meeting of representatives from 17 competing U.S. cities and initial site inspection trips have been cancelled. 16 host cities across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada were expected to be announced during the first quarter of 2021. Montagliani: “The deadline, I think, will likely be pushed back, because I think the cities are going to probably ask for it. A lot of cities have other things on their hands that they have to deal with right now. So I think for now, until we get out of this, in all likelihood it won’t be towards the end of the year when that file is kind of picked up again.”
Yahoo’s Thamel is the latest to posit that the financial impact from COVID-19 may hasten a College Football Playoff expansion, citing one conference commissioner who says: “I think we’re moving in that direction anyway. Could it be accelerated by something like this? It’s a good point. Revenue is going to be an issue. It’s not on the front burner yet, but it’s a legitimate question.” CFP Executive Director Hancock indicates there are no expansion decisions coming in the immediate future, but Thamel observes that it’s “notable that he didn’t shoot down the notion.”
College Football Playoff Executive Director Hancock on projections for his event in 2021, “It's only April. It's just too soon. It's premature. The decision about whether to have a season and a CFP won't be made by the coaches and commissioners. It will be made by the medical people. We have to be prepared, and we will be prepared to have a CFP. [...] There's a long ramp-up time for this. Could it be shorter? Sure. What is it? I don't know. Would it be the same? No, it wouldn't be the same. I can promise you the Super Bowl people are knee deep into Tampa prep right now. Knee deep. We all do the same thing. We're all very deliberate about our planning. Could we do it without that ramp-up time? Yes.”
According to IOC President Bach, Tokyo Olympic organizers "could not manage a postponement beyond next summer at the latest," while Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said there is currently no "Plan B" beyond the rescheduled dates for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Initial estimates indicate that postponing the Games could cost up to $6B, with Japan liable for a majority of the additional expenses.
Despite closing its five Localhost locations, esports venue operator Nerd Street Gamers is hosting some of its largest online tournaments to date while experiencing increased social media engagement and witnessing an expansion of users. Plans to open over 100 venues in Five Below stores, stadiums, and colleges across the country are currently on hold and the timeline for opening the largest public esports venue on the West Coast has been delayed by at least two months.
+ The Tour de France has been postponed from its initial June 27 start, with local newspapers reporting the event has been rescheduled for August 29-September 20.
+ The 2020 USATF Hershey National Youth Outdoor Championships, originally scheduled for June 23-28 in Miramar (Fla.), is canceled.
+ Scheduled for late July, the Senior British Open is postponed.
News from April 10-12Oak View Group's Leiweke on how his facilities will be ready when fans are allowed back in: "We’re partnering with the companies that I consider the smartest in the field, companies that sanitize hospitals and other workplaces, on how we better prepare our facilities, so that people know that we have that seal of approval. Before we open those doors, we have to create new standards that show people we actually took the extra steps to sanitize the building — the seats, concourse, rest rooms, concession stands and the clubs — and screen our employees when they come into work; we may also have to get people in and out of our buildings in a way that’s different from what we used to do. That certification has to be standard. It has to be something that people can tap into thru their phones and social media, where they understand exactly what standards we have and how we met them."
Sports Illustrated's Stephanie Apstein with a piece on "Why Sports Aren't Coming Back Soon." Emory University epidemiologist Zach Binney corroborates the above-referenced poll and flatly states: "we will not have sporting events with fans until we have a vaccine." Binney goes on to explain that "the idea of a quarantined sports league that can still go on sounds really good in theory, but it’s a lot harder to pull off in practice than most people appreciate," due to the need for widely-available testing (not just for participants, but support staff), the need for everyone involved to follow self-quarantine rules, and the inevitability of shutting the entire league down for two weeks if one individual tests positive. University of Maine professor Kimberley Miner, who helps develop risk assessment for the US Army: "It’s hard to stomach a lot of this information, so it’s not being widely shared."
Though he doesn't believe the decision will be made quickly, USA Today's Wolken suggests expanding the College Football Playoff could be a pot of money that helps the industry bounce back from its current challenges. Notably, "At some point, though, schools are going to want to make some of that money back. [...] But without a lot of other options to address budget problems that are going to crop up over the next year, it’s much easier to envision playoff expansion happening before the end of the current contract."
"I think every NGB will apply [for government aid]. I know some of them are still struggling with getting all the documents needed together." That's Prez/CEO of U.S. Biathlon and chair of the National Governing Bodies Council Cobb. Congress declined a request from the USOPC to grant the NGBs and athletes $200M as part of the $2T rescue package passed last month, but it sounds like the NGBs will now apply for funds on their own. Cobb: "There’s two very related, massive issues. One is that the Olympics got postponed. The other is that the economy got postponed. Basically all sports programs are shut down. That means no revenue for memberships. No revenue for events. No revenue for coaching education...When you multiply that out by the 15 million NGB members that are out there, that’s real money."
Cities and venues have reportedly reached out to the NHL to pitch themselves as potential sites for a neutral-site playoff. Should the league be allowed to pick up play this year, it said it would need to decide how much time time was needed for the off-season to keep its 2020-21 season in tact, while then deciding if it was needed to finish the regular-season or just jump into the playoffs. Some of the destinations reported to be possible locations for a neutral-site playoffs would be Grand Forks (N.D.), Manchester (N.H.) and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Canada).
Rather than potentially beginning its season in one location, Major League Baseball is now considering having teams play games in their spring training locations in Arizona and Florida. The idea would reduce travel and for the year break away from National League and American League distinction. While the plan would have games without fans, this plan is one of many by the league and no plan would relaunch without the backing from health and government leaders. The league has apparently even discussed moving games to Japan.
Allegiant Stadium, the future home of the Las Vegas Raiders, is still expected to be complete in July. However, rumors have circulated about the project being shut down due to a second worker on the project coming down with the virus. Whether the stadium is ready to host games or not come the start of the NFL season, the league and the Raiders have explored options to host games should the stadium not be ready and have reportedly looked into UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium, San Antonio and El Paso (Texas).
Golf's major championships have received most of the attention lately with the British Open being canceled and the talk of potentially now having a Ryder Cup, three majors and the Fed Ex Cup within a three to four month span. However, the PGA Tour has only cancelled events through the middle of May to this point and appears as if it could be one of the first sports to return without fans. The Tour said in a memo to players that it plans to give them a 3-4 week notice before play is set to resume and that it will lean on health and government officials to help make that determination. Some possible shake-ups to the schedule could feature The Memorialtaking the July slot of the British Open while the American Family Insurance Classic could fit in during a July or August window after officially being postponed.
News from April 8-9California officials are warning against a premature return to normalcy despite indications the coronavirus curve may be flattening and say the public should expect the stay-at-home order to be in place for months more. Officials also note that cases will likely rise again once the order is lifted. Santa Clara County Executive Officer Smith doesn’t expect there to be “any sports games until at least Thanksgiving, and we’d be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving. This is not something that’s going to be easy to do.”
Sports ETA President Al Kidd wrote a letter on behalf of member organizations to the US Travel Association, noting he is "deeply concerned that the CARES Actdoes not go far enough to protect organizations, which are structured as 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 employees." Says SBA loans and other relief options in CARES "have little potential to help 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations," which are "not eligible to benefit from the forgivable loans available under the Paycheck Protection Program. In addition, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program requires indebtedness, collateral and a personal guarantee for any loans in excess of $200,000." Goes on to explain that member org budgets have been "decimated," both from decreased member dues and lack of hotel tax collection. Highlights that "the majority of our members are reducing their workforce and have no ability to receive the lifeline created by the Paycheck Protection Program." Asks for immediate relief, including eligibility for financing under PPP and exemption "from the requirement that SBA EIDL loans in excess of $200,000 carry a personal guarantee and/or collateral requirement."
Action Network’s Rovell discusses force majeure clauses with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck attorney Pray, who points out that such clauses are “heavily negotiated” and for most, pandemic coverage is less likely to be covered than fire, hurricanes and/or snowstorms. Asked by Rovell if there will be more pressure to parse the specificity of force majeure clauses based on the amount of claims being received, Pray notes that the same legal standards apply but adds that “there’s potential for legislation to create some kind of victims compensation fund that would backstop some of the losses all of these businesses and events had to incur.” Pray goes on to point out that business interruption insurance is tied to property insurance. “So if there’s no tangible loss of property or damage, you aren’t collecting.” More from Rovell, who notes Wimbledon reportedly paid $2M per year for the past 17 years for pandemic insurance and as a result will receive $141M for the cancelation of this year’s tournament.
Seton Hall's Stillman School of Business released a poll yesterday that showed 72% of the 762 respondents would not attend sporting events without a vaccine for the coronavirus. Of those that identified as sports fans, 61% said they would stay home without the vaccine. Only 12% said they would go to games if social distancing could be maintained and 13% said they would go to games like they always had. More.
Little League Prez/CEO Keener debunks reports that the Little League World Series has been canceled, explaining that a decision has yet to be made. “We’ve sought input from our regional/district directors about startup once health officials say safe to do so.”
Just nine days out from UFC 249, UFC president Dana White has confirmed the event has been canceled. White said he was getting ready to promote the event but was asked to “stand down” by top Disney/ESPN executives. Despite the cancellation, White vowed to be the first sport to return to action.
The National Sports Center in Blaine (Minn.) is thinking "outside the box" as it looks to the future considering sports are on hold. Deputy executive director Neil Ladd mentioned the team has discussed using its dorms as medical facilities, using the campus as a relocation site for social service programs or providing child care facilities for first responders and health care workers: "With a 700-acre campus that can be multi-purpose, we never look at it as just a soccer field or just a basketball court or just a golf course. We look at it as an asset, a resource for the state of Minnesota. We’re looking to potentially recreate something new that doesn’t exist today." Also notes reluctance to use the word 'canceled,' instead preferring 'postpone' or 'reschedule' when it comes to events not taking place.
+ The World Outdoor Track & Field Championship set for Eugene (Ore.) next summer has officially moved back to July 2022.
+ The World’s Strongest Man competition in Bradenton (Fla.)has been moved from May to November.
+ The 2020 College National Finals Rodeo event in Casper (Wyo.) has been canceled.
+ The 2020 Esports Travel Summit in Arlington (Texas) has been pushed back two months to August.
+ The Arnold Palmer Cupis moving from Ireland to Bay Hill Club in Florida and will be played in December.
+ New ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi says he is hoping for three majors and seven Masters 1000 events to be played in 2020.
In the event of a surge in coronavirus patients, the Pasadena (Calif.) Convention Center is being prepared to be used as an alternative facility for Huntington Hospital.
Airline / Hotel / Travel Updates
+ Events DC announced an $18M hospitality and tourism relief package that will provide support for restaurants, hotels and undocumented workers in the nation's capital.
+ Trade Show News Network with a look at how CVBs are increasing their digital presence using virtual tours, live-streaming experiences, online classes and interactive content to promote their cities.
+ To wit, the Greater Columbus (Ohio) Sports Commission is creating a virtual Sports Report series to fill in the gap from no live sporting events.
News from April 6-7A report by the Wall Street Journal predicts that long-term impacts of COVID on the youth sports industry could include the shuttering of organizations, developmental programs and ancillary technology companies as well as drop in participation due to a post-COVID economic recession. The 2007-09 global recession led to a 7% decline in the number of children who regularly played team sports in 2014 while less than 22% of kids from the lowest household income bracket played sports consistently in 2018. National Fitness Foundation Executive Director Clay Walker: "I believe when the re-examination happens, people are going to say, We need to take care of our country. Youth sports are an important way of creating equity health--so that everybody has an equal opportunity.”
Positive talk amidst the chaos from commission leaders in this Front Office Sports piece. Visit Indy communications manager Nate Swick: "We’re looking to salvage the second half of this year, but next year is looking so strong. [...] We’re charged with being innovative in how we capitalize and activate. We’re a community for volunteers to be creative, and it should be really cool after weathering this to see what ideas can we start." Greater Miami CVB CEO Bill Talbert: "When the light switch is turned on, we’ll be back out, and the customer will be traveling. For destinations, we’re the last to go down and the first to come up."
SBJ dives into the relationship between sports and sponsors as COVID presents an unprecedented landscape for deliverable assets, changing media consumption, and content creation. Cultivating the personal relationship between sports properties and sponsors is key, according to marketing and sales experts across the industry, as is flexibility and collaboration. An anonymous executive from one of the "largest sports marketing consultancies:" “The question we’re getting from every [brand] client is how they can take something that largely lives in the physical world and now pivot it for something that can be delivered in social or digital at a time when everybody’s home. We’re also getting a lot of questions about how the consumer psyche will change when we emerge from all of this."
Among its current contingency plans, the MLB is considering staging the season in empty ballparks in one location for all teams. Phoenix is among the leading contenders for a single-city season due to the proximity of 10 spring training facilities and Chase Field, which features artificial turf and a retractable roof. League statement on Tuesday: “While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan. While we continue to interact regularly with governmental and public health officials, we have not sought or received approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or the Players Association. [...] we are not ready at this time to endorse any particular format for staging games in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the coronavirus.”
NBA Commish Silver does not plan to make any decisions regarding the season until at least May. The NBA and NBPA are jointly assessing the potential of the rapid test option for the coronavirus, which would allow test results to come back in 15 minutes or less
The NHL and NHLPA are considering North Dakota's Ralph Engelstad Arenaas a possible host for the remaining 2019-20 regular season and playoffs due to its low population density and likelihood of playing without fans. While Manchester (N.H.) was cited as a potential host site by NHL insiders, sources associated with the SNHU Arenarefuted the story. In an interview with NBCSN, Commissioner Gary Bettman noted that playing out the regular season at neutral sites or shortening the regular season to complete the playoffs are options currently being considered. Eight NHL players have tested positive as of Tuesday.
The reshuffled golf schedule includes the PGA Championship in August, the U.S. Open in September, the Ryder Cup during its original September date, and the Masters in November. Plans to postpone and reschedule the Memorial Tournament are still to be determined but tournament director Dan Sullivan disputed reports that it could take place without fans. The PGA Tour's Wyndham Championship, Northern Trust, BMW Championship, and Tour Championshipare scheduled to take place between August and September.
ESPN’s Rittenberg reports that athletic directors with whom he has spoken continue to indicate that without a large-scale national protocol for the resumption of sporting events, it will be impossible to hold a college FB season. “Can’t have games green-lit in some states and not others.”
While the Joplin Sports Authority expects to host a full calendar of events from Memorial Day weekend through the end of July, the loss of sporting events such as the NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball tournament in March could drastically impact the $6M generated by events and tourism annually. According to JSA Director Craig Hull, officials expected to set a record for hotel room nights during the NCAA Tournament after generating approximately 11,500 last year. Hull: “Right now, this is a great lesson for Joplin on how important sports tourism is because there are a lot of businesses in this town — hotels, restaurants and retail — that relied on those customers who we brought in." Also notes that everyone is going through this together: "Obviously it’s unprecedented. I’ve talked to sports commissioins from coast to coast. We trade text messages, phone calls. ... Everybody is trading notes and trying to figure out when this is going to end, and what’s our game plan afterwards."
According to a study from Oxford Economics, Maine is the most vulnerable state economy in the U.S. due to its older population and large number of small business owners or self-employed citizens. Nevada is the second-most vulnerable state due to its casino-based tourism industry while New York and California are considered the most economically resilient despite their high COVID case loads.
+ The 2020 NTT IndyCar series will no longer include the May 30-31 doubleheader grand prix in Detroit, with plans to begin on June 6 at the Texas Motor Speedway. The schedule will also feature doubleheader events at the Iowa Speedway on July 17-18 and Weather Tech Laguna Seca Raceway on September 19-20 and an additional race on October 3 at the IMS road course.
+ RescheduledFishing League Worldwide tournaments now slated to begin with the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Hartwell from May 28-31 and conclude with the Toyota Series Championship at Lake Cumberland from December 3-5.
+ American Legion Baseballcancelled the 2020 World Series and eight Regional tournaments.
+ Sportico reports that the Little League World Serieswon't be held, but U.S. teams may play through regional tournaments.
+ The NAIA is preparing to adjust the fall sports calendar if needed, potentially pushing championship games into January 2021.
+ Entertainment Software Associationwill not present an online E3 2020 event experience in June but several individual publishers will produce digital E3-style showcases and announcements.
FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers have transformed New York's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Detroit's TCF Center, Chicago's McCormick Place, New Orleans' Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, and the Atlantic City (N.J.) Convention Center into temporary medical facilities.
The IOCestablished the "Here We Go" task force to reevaluate every aspect of Tokyo 2020 preparations in order to re-stage the event in 16 months. The task force features representatives from the local organizing committee, the Japanese and Tokyo metropolitan governments, the WHO and the IOC, and will begin the process of re-securing competition venues and related facilities, re-negotiating operational contracts with suppliers, and extending sponsorship agreements. Tokyo will consider using the unoccupied Athlete Village, which includes 24 buildings, to house COVID patients.
News from April 3-5President Trump talked with pro sports commissioners recently and according to the White House pool report: "The president recognized the good work being done by many teams and players to care for their communities, workforces, and fan bases across the Nation. The commissioners thanked President Trump for his national leadership and for his interest in the sports industry. President Trump encouraged them to continue to support their fellow Americans during this challenging time." Trump is hopeful the NFL season will open on time and supports a virtual NFL draft later this month. NBA Commish Silver reportedly said he wants sports leagues to be a part of a return to normalcy and help with the economy, when it is safe to do so. Sports Illustrated legal expert McCann reviews President Trump's call with pro sports commissioners, notes that "most of the logistics to return to play are out of his control." McCann runs through the influence of players associations, the leagues being private businesses & therefore cannot be forced to start playing again, a potential recalibration of salaries if fans aren't in stands, plus the "interplay" between federal, state & local government. California Governor Newsom, in response to President Trump's optimism about fans at football games this fall, "I'm not anticipating that happening in this state."
The Washington Postdigs deeper on the topic of when sports will return and while the situation is changing rapidly, it is possible that there will not be any sports for the remainder of the calendar year. Leagues are planning for as many scenarios as they can, but one all leagues are considering is that play may not be able to resume this year. Health officials believe play may not be able to resume until there is a vaccine, which, at its earliest, may not be ready until early 2021. Some have said they expect the NFL and college football to start on time, while others have stated they don’t see how it will be played.
Aspen Institute editorial director Jon Solomon lays out three anticipated outcomes: 1) organized youth and school sports won't return until May at the very earliest, more likely summer, and quite possibly the fall; 2) when the virus restrictions lift, we will see greater demand for organized youth and school sports programming -- but potentially less supply and less participation; and 3) the misalignment between the demand for, and supply of, quality affordable sport activity could lead to new models that better meet the needs of children and families. Includes commentary from TeamSnap CEO Dave DuPont, Sports Facilities Advisory Founder/CEO Dev Pathik and DC SCORES CEO Bethany Rubin Henderson.
The postponement of the 2020 Olympicswill cost the USOPC $200M due to loss of the U.S. media rights fees that NBCUniversal pays the IOC to televise the event. USOPC does not get its share of the money until the Games occur and it represents roughly 40% of the budget. Roughly $100M gets distributed annually, including $13M in stipends to athletes and $75M+ to the national governing bodies for their sports. U.S.A. Cycling Chief Exec. DeMartini: "We have a rainy-day fund, but it's raining awfully hard, awfully fast." More.
With the Tokyo Summer Olympics moving to next summer, FINA has admitted it will need to move its World Championships in Fukuoka (Japan), and the FINA Athletic Committee is surveying athletes in different disciplines to get their opinions on a new date. Two proposed dates are in 2021 and two in 2022.
More Event Movement
+ USA Curling had postponed its 2020 Arena National Championships from March to April, but now is cancelling. Gillette (Wyo.) was set to host this year, but will now host in 2022.
+ The PGA of America has officially moved the PGA Championship from May to August and it will stay at Harding Park in San Francisco.
+ The Meijer LPGA Classic set to be played in Plainfield Township (Mich.) has been postponed and will be rescheduled for later this year.
+ The U.S. Women’s Open has been rescheduled from its June date back to December and will remain in Houston at Champions Golf Club.
+ The Sr. PGA Championship hosted by Harbor Shores Resort in Benton Harbor (Mich.) has been canceled.
+ With New York being the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., the U.S. Open is exploring moving the event from Winged Foot. The USGA is reportedly looking at a pair of bookend sites in next year’s host Torrey Pines and last year’s host Pebble Beach.
+ The World Endurance Championship has altered the remaining of its 2019-20 schedule and is preparing to restart in August.
+ The 2020 Tour of Utah has been canceled.
StubHub is facing a class action suit alleging it reneged on a guarantee to provide cash refunds for canceled events. The ticket reseller has instead changed its policy and offered vouchers valued at 120% of the purchase price to be used in the next 12 months.
Clarification from Friday: U.S. Youth Soccer canceled the 2020 USYS National Championships and Presidents Cup, along with the regional tournaments associated with the events. Return to activity date pushed back to May 1, when all 55 state associations will review a new timeline for potential return to league play.
News from April 1-2According to MLB Columnist Matt Spiegel from 670 AM in Chicago, Major League Baseball is discussing a 100-game season without an All-Star Game. The All-Star Game was set for Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, but as compensation the league could opt for a potential neutral-site World Series at Dodger Stadium. If the Dodgers made the World Series, road games would be played inAnaheim or San Diego.
The New York Times talks about the potential professional golf schedule for the remainder of the year should health experts advise that returning to competitive action is safe. The governing bodies of the four majors, in addition to the PGA Tour and broadcasters have competing interests and it may be nearly impossible to condense all the majors, the Fed Ex Cup and the Ryder Cup by the end of the calendar year. If play is allowed to resume in August, the prospective major schedule could begin with the PGA Championship in August, followed by the U.S. Open in September. The U.S. Open may need to be moved from New York and Winged Foot Country Club considering it is the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. The British Open could be played in September if the Ryder Cup is moved back a year, followed by The Masters in October.
The National Sports Center in Blaine (Minn.) says it is losing $1M a month in revenue with business being shut down, but it will move forward with a $4M sports dome bubble based on anticipated demand once activities resume.
+ To accommodate the new dates for the 2021 Summer Olympics, the 2021 World Games have been postponed to 2022. The event will remain in Birmingham (Ala.).
+ For the first time since World War II, there will be no tennis played at the All England Club after it was announced Wimbledonhas been canceled. The U.S. Open hosted by the USTA says it does not plan to cancel or reschedule the event.
+ United States Youth Soccer has cancelled all of its 2020 tournaments.
+ The remainder of the Overwatch League regular season will be played via online matches, while no decision has been made about the Grand Finals.
+ The USGA has postponed its U.S. Women's Open Qualifier set for May at Marin Country Club in Novato (Calif.). Marin has agreed to host a 2021 qualifier if the event can't be rescheduled in 2020.
+ The National Golden Gloves tournament has been postponed until August and the event will remain in Tulsa (Okla.).
+ The Southeastern Conference announced that the sites that were set to host 2020 spring championships before being canceled, will be the sites for the 2021 spring championships.
+ The inaugural Huntsville (Ala.) Championship has been postponed and will now be played in 2021.
+ NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said the league is working towards a late June start to their season, but added the start date is flexible based on the uncertainty of when it will be deemed safe to resume activities.
+ Major League Baseball's Field of Dreams Game in Iowamay be in jeopardy if the temporary stadium being built for the game can not be completed in time.
Confirming reports, the postponed Tokyo Olympicswill take place July 23 - August 8, 2021, approximately one year after the original opening date. The Paralympic Games will follow from August 24 - September 5. According to the IOC, “all athletes already qualified and quota places already assigned for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will remain unchanged." Key legal considerations for Olympic advertisers, sponsors, and related service providers include loss of activation opportunities and media rights, as well as hospitality and travel cancellations.
NBA officials are considering Las Vegas, the Bahamas, Atlantic City (N.J.), Orlando, Hawaii, and Louisvillefor a potential one-site, fan-less, 16-team playoff in late June or early July. If a playoff takes place, the 2020-21 regular season would not commence until Christmas. The NBA Draft, currently scheduled for June 25, could also be impacted if the season goes through late August or early September.
American Hotel & Lodging Association CEO Chip Rogers called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act a "lifeline," not a stimulus, for U.S. hoteliers and workers, calling on lawmakers to extend Small Business Administration loan forgiveness from June 30 to September 30 to allow the industry time to get back to full employment and service debts. While the bill enables hoteliers to meet debt service obligations and payrolls for four to eight weeks, Rogers anticipates it will take longer for travel demand to return to normal levels. Rogers: “The challenge is, if you keep all your staff on at full pay, you would have no additional resources to service debt. As you know, you have to service debt first or you have no business.”
+ World Athletics officially moved the 2021 World Championships in Oregon to 2022.
+ USA Wrestlingpostponed the Olympic Team Trials to 2021. The event was originally scheduled for April 4-5 in State College (Pa.) and the 2021 competition will still be held at the Bryce Jordan Center.
+ USA Softballcanceled all originally-scheduled stops on the 2020 "Stand Beside Her" Tour.
+ The U.S. Eventing Associationcanceled the 2020 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships, originally scheduled for May 16-17 at Chattahoochee Hills (Ga.) Horse Trials.
+ According to German Tennis Federation VP Dirk Hordoff, Wimbledon will be canceled. The grand slam was expected to begin June 29.
+ The 2020 Pokémon Championship Series was suspended, cancelling all regional and international events as well as the 2020 Pokémon World Championship.
+ The Marshall County (Ala.) CVBcanceled the Guntersville Lake Hydrofest, originally scheduled for June 26-27.
Facilities & Complexes:
+ Construction continues on SoFi Stadium in Ingelwood (Calif.), Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, and Dodger Stadium while work on the New York Islanders' new arena at Belmont Park in Long Island is on pause.
+ The first phase of the $450M Mercedes-Benz Superdome renovation is continuing on schedule in a effort to be completed before New Orleans hosts the 2024 Super Bowl.
+ A portion of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens (N.Y.) is being converted into a 350-bed temporary hospital. The site will likely be used for non-COVID patients and auxiliary medical care.
+ The Jimmie Carroll Sports Complex/West Plains (Mo.) Parks & Recreation and West Plains Civic Center will be closed to the public through April 15.
+ Analysts are watching for post-pandemic sporting goods inventory shortages due to supply chain issues and the transition to producing medical protective equipment. While professional athletes, teams, and major leagues are unlikely the be affected by shortages, youth sports, prep and college athletics, and recreational consumers could be impacted by lack of available equipment and delivery delays.
+ An Airbnbrelief package for hosts includes $250M to partially cover the cost of coronavirus cancellations, a $10M Superhost Relief Fund that allows eligible hosts to apply for grants up to $5K, and a new system that allows guests to contribute money to hosts they previously stayed with.
News from March 27-29Several Japanese news organizations are reporting that the postponed Tokyo Olympics will likely start with an opening ceremony July 23, 2021 and a closing one on August 8. Early estimates are putting the cost of rescheduling at $2B-$3B with several levels of the Japanese government covering the costs.
It's being reported that the NBA is considering Las Vegas as an option to rescue its season. One scenario would have a play-in tournament for lower-seeded teams, as well as the NBA Finals, contested at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavillion, which host the league's Summer League events.
Cancellations & Postponements:
+ Events DC is postponing upcoming events through April 27.
+ Although it has yet to be confirmed by the USGA, reports have said the U.S. Open set for Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck (N.Y.) has been postponed. If the reports are indeed true, there is the possibility that all four majors, the Fed Ex Cup and the Ryder Cup could all be played within a three to four month span.
+ The Rock 'n' Roll Atlantic City Half Marathon set for the middle of May has been postponed and organizers are exploring alternative dates.
+ Camping World Stadium in Orlando announced the postponement of four events, including the Monster Jam Finals scheduled for early May.
+ The YMCA postpones its swimming Long Course National Championship and National Gymnastics Championships set for late July in Greensboro (N.C.) and June in Long Beach (Calif.) respectively.
+ The Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals, normally scheduled for the week prior to The Masters in Augusta (Ga.), has been rescheduled for April 2021.
+ USA Ultimate has postponed its Division I and III National Championships.
+ USA Gymnastics is exploring alternative dates for several of its events and is looking at late summer or fall.
+ Despite possible postponement of the 2021 World Athletics Championships, the organization is committed toEugene (Ore.) as host.
+ After losing its opportunity to host this summer's NHL Draft, Montreal may be in line to host the 2021 Draft and Expansion Draft.
Facilities & Complexes:
+ The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs (Colo.) has postponed its grand opening that was set for late May.
+ The new stadium for the Columbus Crew, which broke ground in October, is still on track for a 2021 opening.
+ Chase Field in Phoenix is volunteering to be the host for other MLB games if the league is looking for neutral places to play or warm places to play once games resume.
New Mexico has canceled its upcoming spring national campaign and all upcoming events associated with tourism.
News from March 25-26Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper is reporting that the IOC is working with the sport governing bodies to arrange a July – August window for the postponed Tokyo Olympics in 2021. The time frame suggests the games would be held between a pair of tennis Grand Slams, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, but the hope is to finalize the dates in the next four weeks. The change could cause the World Athletics Championships set for Eugene (Ore.) in 2021 to move back to 2022. The Los Angeles Times broke down the developments leading the IOC to postpone the Games. Despite multiple affirmations that the intention was for the games to go on as scheduled this summer, updated statistics showing the virus spreading through Africa, along with unfavorable trends in the U.S. and South America, resulted in the IOC reaching out to the Tokyo Committee to discuss postponement. The IOC, host committee, corporate sponsors, broadcasters and 33 international federations that govern each sport are now working to reach a decision on the new date as soon as possible.
With events being cancelled, event organizers are hoping to use the force majeure clause that appears in most of their contracts to minimize their losses. Of note, however, insurance companies have been writing epidemics out of their coverage since the early 2000s and the Event Manager Blog from Skift says: "If you’re looking to protect a future event from possible losses caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), insurance is probably not your answer at this point."
Cancellations and Postponements
+ The Indianapolis 500 has been postponed with the Greatest Spectacle in Racing moving back to August and the GMR Grand Prix shifting back to July 4.
+ USA Diving has postponed the U.S. Olympic Team Trials that were scheduled to be contested at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis.
+ The NHL is postponing the NHL Draft, the NHL Combine and the NHL Awards, all of which were scheduled for June. The draft was set for Montreal, and the league has stated the city will get the opportunity to host the draft within the next couple of years.
+ The North American Indigenous Games have been postponed and the hope is to hold the games in Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) in 2021.
+ With the postponement of the Summer Olympic Games, St. Louis is hoping that it will get a chance again in 2021 to host the U.S. Olympic Gymnastic Trials.
Facilities & Complexes
+ The $144M Spooky Nook project being built in Hamilton County (Ohio) is moving along.
+ Construction is also continuing on the new Las Vegas Raiders stadium despite a worker testing positive.
News from March 23-24The IOC and Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee have released a joint statement announcing the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, noting that the Games will be held “no later than summer 2021,” adding: “The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.” Leaders from NGBs and international federations praised the decision, calling it "difficult" but "responsible" and "correct." Delaying the games, rather than cancelling, will likely cost insurers less through postponement policies. The insured cost of the Games is estimated at $2B with an additional $600M for hospitality.
Cancellations & Postponements:
+ The 2020 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials scheduled for June 19-28 in Eugene (Ore.) will be rescheduled.
+ The 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Swimming will be rescheduled. Omaha Sports Commission officials are working to keep the event, originally scheduled for June 21-28 at the CHI Health Center.
+ The 2020 World Harness Handicapping Championship at the Meadowlands Racetrack was rescheduled to July 25.
+ The BMX World Championships at Houston's Rockstar Energy Bike Park scheduled for the end of May will be postponed.
Up in the Air:
+ UFC 249, scheduled to take place on April 18 in New York City, is expected to be canceled.
+ USGA officials are making "relevant contingency plans" for the U.S. Open after host venue the Winged Foot Golf Club in New York closed indefinitely. The event is scheduled to begin June 18.
+ NFL officials remain "guardedly optimistic" about the possibility of staging a complete or nearly complete 2020 season but are "wary" about off-season programs and summer training camps.
+ With the intention of playing as many games as possible, the MLS expects to push its season back, with the postseason potentially extending into December.
+ The international governing bodies for aquatics and track and field are considering new dates for their 2021 World Championships due to the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics. The 2021 World Aquatics Championships are scheduled for July 16-August 1 in Fukuoka, Japan, and the 2021 World Track and Field Championships are scheduled for August 6-15 in Eugene, Oregon.
Facilities & Complexes:
+ A sports complex in Cape Coral (Fla.) will be repurposed as a mobile COVID-19 testing site run by Lee Health.
+ The $11M Kinetic Sports Complex (Nebr.) will delay its opening.
+ Cooperstown Dreams Parkcancelled the 2020 season, impacting 1,352 registered teams scheduled to play in 104-team tournaments from June through August.
+ CS Consulting owner Courtney Stanley and event designer Christine Mack have launched Meetings Mean Community, a private Facebook group that will serve as a virtual meeting place for event industry professionals.
+ U.S. lawmakers are nearing a decision on a $32B airline bailout package that includes $25B in grants for passenger airlines, $4B in grants for cargo carriers, and $3B for contractors, as well as $29B in loans for both passenger and cargo airlines.
+ Major U.S. airlines are considering plans for a voluntary shutdown of domestic passenger flights as COVID-19 impacts operations at air traffic control facilities across the country.
+ Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson: “I’m also worried that we’ve — we are cutting so deeply that the rebuilding process will be more challenging than — maybe more challenging than we anticipated and maybe to some extent that we might regret having moved as aggressively as we’ve moved.
News from March 20-22Following an emergency meeting, the IOC has given itself a month to consider postponing the upcoming Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo. The organization has stated canceling the Games is not an option, and countries around the globe are beginning to mount pressure on the organization to consider postponing them. Among those asking for the Games to be postponed in recent days have been USA Swimming and USA Track & Field.
Las Vegas was the planned destination for the 2020 NFL Draft, but it appears as if the league will opt for a studio setting. The NFL has not confirmed publicly what the plans are, but those close to the league have mentioned a studio setting with cut-ins to team headquarters seems to be the course of action as of now.
The Panama City Beach (Fla.) Sports Complex is closed through May 1, but employees have found a way to try to keep the community active during this time of uncertainty. They issued a social distancing sports challenge that encourages those within the community to make a video or take a photo of them playing sports while practicing social distancing.
Facilities and Complexes:
+ The opening of an $11M sports complex in Lincoln (Neb.) has been pushed back.
+ Unused ice rinks in Anchorage are being used to help the homeless from contracting and spreading the disease.
Airline / Hotel / Travel Updates:
+ More than 13K Delta workers have taken voluntary leaves according to CEO Ed Bastian, accounting for nearly 15% of the company's workforce.
+ Executives of 10 of the largest passenger and cargo airlines have said they will not lay off or furlough any workers prior to Sept. 1, if Congress pushes quickly to bail out the industry.
+ CVBs around the country are stepping in to support the public during the coronavirus pandemic by keeping their communities up to date with information and developments.
News from March 18-19Sports Facilities Advisory and Sports Facilities Management CEOs Dev Pathik and Jason Clement shared their thoughts on the COVID-19 impact on youth sports. Pathik: "The youth sports marketplace has been recession resistant until now. In the previous downturn, parents stopped going out to eat or they would delay a vacation to fund their kids' sports programs. This is different." Clement: "This week we have pivoted to strategize for the 'comeback.' We are already re-booking events, creating new events to aid in various sports recovery, and the marketplace is asking us when they can return. The good news is kids are not, so far, as severely impacted by the virus. We can already see a massive rebound in the fall. These changes will lead to a relocation of events, canceled high school activities, new showcases for athlete exposure, and we know that tournament-driven travel will be a major player in the tourism rebound. The youth and amateur sports industry will be a leading force in the economic recovery around the country."
Navigate Research Founder and CEO Maestas advises companies and organizations to “put on their CFO hats” before deciding whether to freeze marketing and/or sponsorship budgets, and to first ask whether the sponsorship is “critical to driving true ROI.” He adds: “We know an aware fan is 3x likely to buy and 2x likely to refer a product or service if they are aware and a fan of that team. ... So the question is are fans aware of my sponsorship or my client’s sponsorship. If the answer is yes, then we need to protect this investment.” At some point, Maestas continues, games will be played again without fans in the stands, and “we believe ratings may increase 25-50% above their norms.” However, 40-50% of sponsorship value comes from in-person exposure at the venue. Those assets, he adds, are 5x to 10x more expensive than social, mobile, digital counterparts.
Arnall Golden Gregory partners Wilson and Perlowski advise that force majeure contract clauses will likely “excuse performance arising since March 11,” when the WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic, adding that the terms “epidemic” or “pandemic” appear in many contracts as qualifying events. “And even without that specific reference, COVID-19 should qualify under most force majeure clauses due to government imposed travel bans, business closings, and quarantine orders.” For contracts without a force majeure clause, parties may “invoke the doctrines of impossibility, frustration, or impracticability,” which may generally be employed under common law to terminate contracts when a “supervening event occurs, which is (1) unexpected; (2) beyond the control of the parties; and (3) makes performance impossible, materially changes the inherent nature of a party's obligations, or the purpose of the contract is destroyed or obviated.” However, arguments based on these doctrines will hinge on whether the contracted performance is “actually impossible” due to government action or “acute economic difficulty. ... While force majeure and excuse will generally return the contracting parties to their respective pre-contracting positions, the parties are unlikely to realize the financial benefit of the original bargain and, in most cases, will not be made whole through insurance either.”
Connect with a quick look at how CVBs are approaching the current state of affairs. Las Vegas CVA Sr VP of Communication and Government Affairs Lori Nelson-Kraft saying messaging is "centered completely around providing accurate facts to all of our audiences," a sentiment echoed by Destination DC Prez/CEO Elliott Ferguson, whose team is "sharing proactive, timely and accurate information to help inform visitors and allay concerns." Per EVP of Global Communications Chris Heywood, NYC & Company's "focus is really on empathy and compassion and also inspirational messaging," while also sharing "virtual NYC experiences." Los Angeles TCB Director of Corporate Communications Shant Apelian asserts "this is a time for planning and preparation" to put the area "in a prime position to capitalize on pent-up demand and the rapid industry recovery that economists predict."
The NCAA will miss out on a staggering $933M in media rights fees, ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and TV ads from the cancellation of March Madness.
News from March 16-17Guidance from the Aspen Institute's Sports & Society Program on the coronavirus and youth sports recommends that all youth sports programs take a temporary pause for the next two weeks in an effort to slow the trajectory of the virus. Scheduling in unstructured time for play and movement, especially individual activities, or participating in virtual training, is advised.
The latest White House guidance recommends against gathering in groups of 10 or more people, and eating or drinking at restaurants, food courts or bars for the next 15 days. Individuals are strongly encouraged to work or study from home if possible, and anyone experiencing minor symptoms is advised to stay home.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut ordered that crowd capacity be restricted to 50 people, restaurants and bars provide takeout and delivery only, and all movie theaters, casinos and gyms close. Indiana will not allow in-person events of over 50 people and bars, restaurants and nightclubs can only provide takeout and delivery services through the end of March. Nebraska will limit public events and gatherings to 10 people or less and bars and restaurants will be takeout only. Alabama advised against mass gatherings of 50 people or more, and retail businesses should limit patronage to 50% of normal capacity. The U.S. and Canada are preparing to close the border to non-essential travel.
After strong statements to the contrary, the UFCpostponed its London, Columbus (Ohio) and Portland (Ore.) events, but will keep UFC 249 scheduled as planned, pending a possible location change. All UFC offices, including the Las Vegas HQ, will close through March 31, and its Performance Institute will be closed to all personnel and athletes. Monday, the S&P Global Ratings placed the debt of Endeavor (and its subsidiary UFC) on credit watch negative because of the impact of canceled events from the coronavirus.
WWE announced that WrestleMania 36 and all related events will not take place in Tampa, but will be available to stream via the WWE Network and pay-per-view on April 5. The event will take place with only essential personnel from a closed set at the WWE training facility in Orlando.
It's official: the NFL canceled plans to hold its draft in Las Vegas from April 23-25. The event will be televised at a to-be-determined site. Commissioner Goodell: “While this outcome is disappointing both to the NFL and to the Las Vegas community, we look forward to partnering with the Raiders, the city of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for a future NFL draft as well as evaluating opportunities for other major NFL events in Las Vegas in the future, including the Super Bowl.”
According to a source, the IOChas ruled out holding the Tokyo Olympics without spectators or behind closed doors because "it would go against everything we stand for. The Olympics is more than just a series of competitions, it is about bringing everyone together to celebrate sport."
Sports Illustrated’s McCann offers insight on 10 questions regarding the NBA’s hiatus from a legal/business standpoint, noting that while CDC and federal guidelines do not compel entities from ceasing activity, continuing with such operations may leave organizers vulnerable to allegations of negligence. “An organizer that sees itself as more knowledgeable than public health experts might later regret it.” Regarding the disclosure of individuals who have tested for COVID-19, McCann suggests that HIPPA is “unlikely to have legal impact given that it does not contain a so-called ‘private right of action.’ This means that a person whose medical records are shared without authorization can’t file a lawsuit under HIPAA.” McCann also believes that were the NBA to resume play and a player contracted the virus, he could sue the player who infected him, the player’s team and the NBA. Lots more & some obvious connections to college athletics.
USA Today’s Wolken asks “in the reality we’re living in, with businesses and jobs already being lost and a potentially significant number of lives lost in so many communities, when will it be appropriate to jump back into the blissful frivolity of sports? And when will people feel safe going to stadiums and cheering on their teams?” Wolken goes on to observe that it’s “both disorienting and emotionally painful” for events such as the NCAA Tournament, The Masters and the Kentucky Derby to be ripped away, which is why sports fans find solace in speculating if/when they may return this year and in what form. “But it’s also important to be realistic. There’s far more we don’t know about how the rest of 2020 is going to play out from a sports perspective than we know. ... The only thing we can control is knowing that when our sports finally come back, we won't take them for granted.”
More Cancellations & Postponements:
+ USA Swimmingcanceled the TYR Pro Series in Mission Viejo (Calif.) & the combined Open Water National and Junior National Championships in Fort Myers (Fla).
+ USA Water Polocanceled the 2020 FINA Men's and Women's Intercontinental Tournament and the inaugural DIII Women's National Championship.
+ The 146th Kentucky Derby has been postponed from May 2 to September 5.
+ The PGA Championship at San Francisco's Harding Park has been postponed.
+ The USGAcanceled the U.S. Women's Amateur Four Ball, the U.S. Amateur Four Ball, the local stage of U.S. Open qualifying, and the lone stage of U.S. Women's Open qualifying.
+ The NAIAcanceled the spring season.
+ The NJCAAcanceled all upcoming basketball championships and spring competition for the remainder of the academic year.
+ Penn Relays have been canceled. UPenn will try to host an alternate event in late May or early June.
+ MLBpostponedOpening Day until mid-May at the earliest.
+ NASCARsuspended its season until May.
+ The AVPcanceled upcoming events in Austin and Seattle and rescheduled the NYC Open for June 19-21, and the Huntington Beach Open for October 2-4.
+ The French Open has been rescheduled for Sept. 20-Oct. 4.
+ The International Fencing Federationpostponed all events due to take place over the next five weeks, including the FIE Grand Prix in Anaheim and the Junior and Cadet World Championships in Salt Lake City.
+ Sports ETApostponed and rescheduled the Annual Symposium in Kansas City and Women's Summit in New Orleans.
Facilities & Complexes:
+ The Grand Park Sports Campus (Ind.) is closed.
+ Watkins Glen (N.Y.) Internationalpostponed its Opening Weekend.
+ Keenelandcanceled its 2020 Spring Race and closed the track to nonessential personnel.
+ Augusta National will close indefinitely by the end of the week.
+ The Fort Smith Convention Center and ArcBest Performing Arts Center is closed indefinitely.
+ Los Angeles' SoFi Stadiumremains on track to open this summer before hosting the Rams and Chargers in the fall.
On As Scheduled:
+ Despite the ppd Opening Day, MLB is committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins, including the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium on July 14.
+ According to officials, the Ryder Cup is still scheduled to take place at Whistling Straits from September 22-27.
+ CAPA predicts most of the world's airlines will be bankrupt by the end of May, and called for increased intergovernmental coordination.
+ U.S. airlines are seeking over $50B in federal assistance, including $30B for passenger airlines and cargo carriers and $25B in loans and temporary tax relief such as a repeal of all federal taxes on tickets, fuel and cargo through the end of 2021. Amtrak is also seeking $1B in federal funding to mitigate the unprecedented loss of ridership.
+ United Airlines is reducing capacity by 60% in April, including 85% of international flights.
+ As reported by Bloomberg Radio's Carol Massar, Hilton's CEO estimates occupancy will sink to 10-15% worldwide.
+ American Hotel & Lodging Association CEO Chip Rogers predicts that up to half of the hotels in the U.S. could close this year, with job losses in the 4M range if occupancy tracks to a 30-35% level.
+ Closures on the Las Vegas Strip include the Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, MGM Resort's 13 Strip properties, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and all buffets of Caesars Entertainment.
Former U.S. Surgeon General Murthy, who is part of the NCAA's Advisory Panel, with an interesting tweet thread that included, "Because our visibility into the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. is so compromised due to lack of testing, it makes it even more urgent that we be aggressive about mitigation efforts like physical distancing so we can reduce the likelihood of further spread."
The 2020 NFL Draft has reportedly been postponed until May at the earliest and it will not be held in Las Vegas. Per 247Sports' Straka: "According to my sources, Las Vegas is already canceled — it just hasn’t been announced yet — and the league will announce the draft is being postponed until late May at least — as soon as the NFLPA’s decision on the new CBA is announced." Meanwhile, should the federal government implement mandated social distancing procedures, that could further delay new stadium construction in Las Vegas and Los Angeles that could run into the 2020 season.
The AP's Russo: "NCAA Prez Mark Emmert told AP the decision to cancel all spring championships was based on medical projections the COVID-19 advisory board were looking at that suggested the spread could be worse in May and June." Also, interestingly, Emmert says "never say never" on the potential reinstatement of spring championships, but also, "... the answer to that is of course the board and everyone else will consider anything that makes good public policy sense. Those decisions are going to be driven by medical science and there would have to be a very clear unequivocal all-clear determination by public health officials and our advisory panel. Sitting here today that’s very hard to imagine."
With most of the focus of the virus on professional sports, Sports Illustrated spoke to Dr. Chris Koutures and Dr. Edward Cheng about what's safe in youth sports. Sports played with one ball and consist of close physical contact put more athletes at risk of contracting the disease and spreading it.
High-fives are some of the most-frequently used hand gestures in the sports world and many studies show that high-fives, handshakes, hugs and other affirmative physical touches play well with the good vibes theory. But Liverpool Coach Klopp wants none of that right now during the coronavirus outbreak: "Put your hands away!," was what he told fans ready to high-five him coming out of the tunnel last Wednesday. Lots here from different professional athletes on how they intend to interact with teammates and opponents in the safest way possible.
Events DC has suspended operations and services through the end of the month as more positive tests return from attendees at the AIPAC conference held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Intercollegiate Associations: The NCAA announces the cancellation of its remaining winter and spring championships, including March Madness. Prez Emmert: “This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.” The NAIAcanceled all winter championship events; determination on spring championships forthcoming. The NJCAApostponed its DI and DII basketball championships until April 20 (at the earliest), while the already-underway DIII championships will continue on an expedited schedule.
Greater Palm Springs (Calif.) CVB chief sales and marketing officer Colleen Pace, on how the org is reacting to cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open and postponement of Coachella by marketing toward high-population locales within driving distance: "We’re definitely encouraging people who had plans to come anyway. [...] We’re optimistic with some messaging that we’re pushing out. We want to mitigate any hotel loss and keep tourism alive and well. [...] We’re trying to be proactive and adding marketing to that drive market."
+ The White House has restricted travel from the majority of European countries for 30 days
+ Skift reports that Boeing, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, eBay, The Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruises, United Airlines Holdings, Mondelez International and Wynn Resorts have taken on additional loans and extended credit lines.
News from March 9-10 Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, explains that each locale must take its own unique demographic characteristics, as well as the demographics of its event, into consideration when making cancelation decisions: "A lot of it depends on the population. The risk of exposure but also the risk of individuals. [...] Decisions may be different for events in different locations."
Delta CEO Ed Bastian reported yesterday morning a 25-30% decline in net bookings, and expects it may yet get worse. Domestic capacity being cut 10-15% and international capacity 20-25%. Believes there's "no question" there will be government intervention with airlines. Delta president Glen Hauenstein: "Domestic is where we have the most uncertainty, where booking trends have worsened materially over the past week."
United has seen domestic net bookings fall 70% and gross bookings 25%. Domestic capacity cut of 10% in April will rise to at least 20% in May, with similar movement until "concrete signs of returning demand," per president Scott Kirby. He notes they are “planning for this to be relatively short but deep,” and that it will have “a large near-term impact on revenue.”
USA Today's Dan Wolken believes it's time to cancel March Madness, "God forbid, what happens if a player or coach who was on the court with a bunch of other players and coaches tests positive? In a tournament that takes place over three consecutive weeks, is that really a roll of the dice the NCAA wants to take? Yahoo's Charles Robinson: "FWIW, #NCAA has a significant 'rainy day' fund AND insurance to cover the cost of having a total March Madness tournament cancellation. One that takes into account total lost revenue and not just lost ticket revenue. Food for thought as it presses forward in spite of Coronavirus." Yahoo's Pete Thamel gets this from an unnamed industry source, "If half of the Power Five by Friday have canceled classes, there’s going to be enormous pressure on the [college] sports world to take some measure of their own. How could a school sit there and say it’s not safe for 40 kids to sit in a biology lecture but it is safe for teams to play a basketball game in front of 20,000 fans?" An anon Power 5 AD: "When member institutions go purely online education, at what point does that become too big to ignore?"
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan says the plan is still to hold the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, but doesn't rule out a report that the event could move to TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.).
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has not ruled out canceling the Boston Marathon. Includes full list from the AP of global sporting event cancellations as of the article's publication.
The ACC, SEC, MEAC, Big East, Sun Belt and Big 12 are among the leagues pressing forward with plans to put on basketball tournaments as scheduled. The Big West and Mid-American will play their tourneys without spectators. The Ivy Leaguecancelled its men's and women's tournaments. The NCAA Wrestling Championships at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis are still on as scheduled.
The Northwest Athletic Conferencemoved its basketball championships from Everett (Wash.) CC, where the school closed after a student tested positive, to venues in Oregon City (Ore.) and Albany (Ore.). Everett remains host of the 2021 tourneys.
The Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americashas been postponed from the first week in April to mid-November in Austin (Texas). Also in the state capital, the eMLS Cup became collateral damage when SXSW was canceled.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that concerns are escalating among NBA owners that more drastic steps could be looming, including playing games with only essential personnel in arenas. Conference call today to discuss the situation.
Delta, United and American are waiving change fees for upcoming flights that have been previously booked.
A member of the executive board for the Toyko Olympics organizing committee, said that, if the Games can't proceed, a 1-2 year delay would be the most realistic fallback option. The Olympic torch will be lit for the first time in 35+ years without spectators.
News from March 6-8 While the NFL Draftwill go on as scheduled from April 23-25, attendees at the Las Vegas event might not reach the 750K mark as originally predicted by Raiders owner Mark Davis. Nevertheless, the city's resort industry is prepared to implement everyday cleaning protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to Nevada Resort Association President and CEO Virginia Valentine, who predicts the event will be the biggest draft ever: "This is an industry that deals with protocols from foodborne-illness prevention every single day. So the hand-washing, the glove-wearing, the face-covering, the clean aprons, the disinfection of surfaces are done every day in the resort industry. ... In some ways, the protocols for foodborne illnesses are the same for the prevention of the COVID-19. So in a way, we are prepared for this."
With safety as their primary goal, NCAA officials are considering a range of options for the upcoming March Madness tournament, including consolidating host cities, closing games to the public, or restricting access between players and others. The men's tournament is slated to begin in Dayton before expanding to sites that include nine states with confirmed COVID-19 cases, while the first games in the women's tournament will be played at the top 16 seeds.
New guidelines for youth sports leagues and tournaments are being implemented, with NorCal Premier Soccer recommending no pre- or post-game handshakes between players, coaches and officials, no sharing of water bottles or communal water jugs, and no spitting on the ground. Officials with the Super NIT Warm-up youth baseball tournament in Dacula (Ga.) are providing extra hand sanitizer and sanitizer wipes in dugouts and advising athletes to use fist bumps instead of high fives.
Johns Hopkinsdid not admit fans to the first two rounds of the NCAA DIII men's basketball tournament. Nor didAmherst on the women's side.
The BNP Paribas Open, "the fifth major" of pro tennis at Indian Wells (Calif.), has been canceled.
The International Ice Hockey Federationcanceled the 10-country women's world hockey championship scheduled for March 31-April 10.
Austin (Texas) officials canceledSXSW after declaring a local disaster in the city, marking the first time in 34 years that the annual tech, film and music conference will not take place.
NetherRealm, developer of Mortal Kombat 11, canceled the live audience and Last Chance Qualifier events during this year's Final Kombat competition.
The White House is considering implementing tax relief efforts for airlines, and the cruise and travel industries, in order to limit the economic fallout.
News from March 4-5 "If you can think of it, it’s something that we’ve gone through an analysis around. We’ve contingency-planned for all circumstances." That's NCAA Chief Operating Officer Donald Remy on the potential of the coronavirus impacting March Madness. Chief Medical Officer Hainline: "We haven’t arrived at the decision date. But while everything is fluid, we’re going to have to make some decisions and not have it wait until the last couple of days." Bloomberg's Novy-Williams also reports that the NCAA believes it has insurance in place that would cover any losses, and will consult an advisory group that includes former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
More from the NCAA's Remy: "Today we are planning to conduct our championships as planned. However, we are evaluating the COVID-19 situation daily and will make decisions accordingly." Chief Medical Officer Hainline says the association is in daily contact with the CDC. Full advisory panel includes six experts and four "college athlete" liaisons.
Regarding March Madness, host cities such as Omaha and Cleveland are watching the coronavirus situation but running business as usual. Omaha is set to also host USA Swimming Olympic Trials this summer, in addition to the College World Series, and at this point, whether or not the events actually happen is up to event organizers.
Italy has instituted measures to host all sporting events, including Serie A soccer matches, behind closed doors until April 3.
It's possible the Summer Olympics in Tokyo could be postponed, and the host city would still be able to fulfill its contract with the IOC. Japanese Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto stated that the IOC has the right to terminate the Games only if they aren't held in 2020, potentially leaving the door open for a delayed start despite statements from the IOC saying the Games are scheduled to start on time.
While most sporting events in the U.S. are monitoring the situation, the Inspired Home Show 2020, formerly known as the International Home + Housewares Show, has canceled its annual event in Chicago. By pulling out, it is projected to be a $77M hit to the city.