The Latest: Iowa St AD sees football games with 30,000 fans

Sports

The gates of St. Edwards’ Lewis-Chen Family Soccer Field are locked and marked closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, Tuesday, May 5, 2020, in Austin, Texas. In response to the economic impact of COVID-19, St. Edwards says they are cutting cut six sports programs including men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s golf and men’s soccer. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

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Iowa State athletic director Jaime Pollard is telling Cyclones fans that football home games will be played at no more than 50% capacity at Jack Trice Stadium, pending a change in state and local health guidelines. That means no more than 30,000 fans.

Pollard made the announcement in a letter posted to the ISU athletics website Tuesday.

About 22,000 season tickets have been renewed, leaving about 8,000 seats to be filled. Fans not renewing their season tickets and making their Cyclone Club donation by June 12 won’t be allowed to attend games unless guidelines change and capacity can exceed 50%. Single-game tickets sales are unlikely unless capacity is increased.

Season ticket holders who don’t renew for 2020 will continue to have first rights on their same seats for 2021. Season ticket holders who renew but later decide they aren’t comfortable attending games because of fear of coronavirus infection can request a refund or defer the purchase of their season tickets to the 2021 season.

Pollard wrote that ISU will take measures to mitigate the risk to fans and announce them later.

“After consulting with campus officials, we have concluded there is no reasonable way to guarantee that no one will contract the COVID-19 virus,” Pollard said. “Trying to adhere to a standard of absolute protection is simply not reasonable. We would either be held accountable for being far too restrictive or, more likely, not restrictive enough.”

Pollard added, “It will ultimately be up to each attendee to decide whether they are comfortable attending games given the mitigation strategies we will implement. That decision will remain a personal choice that all attendees need to make.”

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The Pac-12 Conference said it’s allowing voluntary in-person workouts on campus for all sports beginning June 15, subject to the decision of each individual school and where allowed by local and state guidelines.

The decision by Pac-12 leaders followed the announcement last week by the NCAA to permit schools to reopen for voluntary activities beginning June 1.

The Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee created a series of guidelines and protocols for schools to follow once they decide to open for individual workouts.

“As states have either already opened or begin to open up access to parks, gyms and other training facilities, student-athletes should have the option at this time to be in, what for many, will be a much safer environment on campus, where they can have access to the best available health, well-being and training support,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said.

The guidelines created by the medical advisory committee cover returning to campus; returning to an athletic facility; facility specific considerations; return to exercise and response to infection or presumed infection. The conference said each school will develop its own health and safety plan consistent with recommendation and local public health guidance.

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If the NHL resumes its season, players will be tested for COVID-19 daily.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says players will be tested each evening once they arrive in the city they’ll play games in. Commissioner Gary Bettman estimated the league could do 25,000-30,000 tests while finishing its season.

Bettman says medical experts have advised the league that by this summer there should be enough tests to make 25,000-30,000 not a large chunk of those available to the general public. Bettman said it will be expensive to test that much.

Daly said teams should be able to test players prior to the start of training camps, which won’t happen before July 1.

NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said testing is one item players will not compromise on.

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If the NHL can resume its season, games for a 24-team playoff are expected to be played in two hub cities.

Locations in the running are Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver.

While there are still some details to work out, including whether the first two rounds are best-of-five or seven, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman expects the Stanley Cup Final to be played in full in one of the two hub cities.

Also, the NHL will hold its draft lottery June 26, which would have been the night of the first round.

The seven teams eliminated from contention and eight placeholders will be eligible.

If one of those teams wins the lottery for one of the top three picks, it will be determined after the play-in round.

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says the league will split its 24-team playoff format in two hub cities, which have yet to be determined should the league resume play.

Bettman says each hub will play host to the top 12 teams in each conference with one based in an Eastern Conference city, and another in the West.

The league has narrowed its focus of hub cities to 10, and will make a final decision based on approval from local health officials.

The league expects players can begin returning to their home rinks early next month.

Training camps won’t open until July 1 at the earliest.

Bettman said the league is open to playing into early fall.

Bettman says games during the play-in format to determine the top 16 teams will be played under regular-season rules. The conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will feature seven-game series.

Bettman says the league has yet to determine whether the first two playoff rounds will be five- or seven-game series.

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NHL Commmissioner Gary Bettman has announced the league is moving ahead with a 24-team expanded playoff format if it’s able to resume play and award the Stanley Cup.

The plan was approved by the NHL’s board of governors, and comes days after the NHL Players’ Association’s executive committee gave the plan a green light.

Bettman stresses the plan’s approval doesn’t guarantee the resumption of games. The league and players must still determine safety protocols and solve other issues, including where to play.

Under the expanded format, the top four teams in each conference will play for seeding while the other 16 face off in a best-of-five series. The league has been shut down since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In going ahead with the top 12 teams in each conference, the decision officially ends the seasons of the league’s bottom seven teams. They are Anaheim, Buffalo, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Ottawa and San Jose.

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The Miami Dolphins are turning their field into a drive-in theatre.

The team announced plans for a theater inside the stadium that will accommodate up to 230 cars. In addition, a new open-air theater on the stadium plaza will host small groups. Classic movies and commencements will be among the events shown, and social distancing will be observed.

“We’ve spent several weeks planning this to be able to provide people with a safe option to go out and enjoy movies, classic Dolphins content, concerts, and celebrate 2020 graduates,” Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said in a statement Tuesday.

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Appalachian State is cutting three varsity men’s sports as part of a plan to save $5 million.

The school announced Tuesday that it has eliminated the men’s soccer, men’s tennis and men’s indoor track and field programs. The school says those cuts are included in a plan to reduce the athletic department’s budget for the 2021 fiscal year by 20%.

That plan includes not filling current athletics staff job openings and exploring “additional personnel actions.”

The school says scholarships will be honored for student-athletes who wish to return to Appalachian State, along with support for those seeking a transfer from the Sun Belt Conference school.

In a statement, athletics director Doug Gillin said going down from 20 sports will “bring us in line with most of our peer institutions.”

“We take all these measures with heavy hearts, but with the long-term sustainability of App State Athletics at the forefront,” Gillin said.

The cuts will leave Appalachian State with 17 varsity sports, seven on the men’s side and 10 on the women’s. The Mountaineers will continue to compete in men’s outdoor track and field as well as men’s cross country.

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Oklahoma will re-open its facilities for voluntary football workouts on July 1 — about two weeks later than the Big 12 Conference has allowed.

The school made the announcement on Tuesday.

Big 12 presidents and chancellors met last Friday and decided voluntary activities could begin June 15 for football, July 1 for other fall sports and July 15 for all other sports.

Oklahoma football has chosen a careful approach. The athletic department’s medicine staff coordinated with the OU Health Sciences Center, Norman campus student health officials, independent in-state and out-of-state infectious disease experts and public health specialists before making the decision.

“Our medical personnel have told us that the safest thing we can do is keep our players off campus for as long as possible,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “We chose the latest point that we could bring them back and still have enough time to prepare.”

The school said other student-athletes will return later this summer in a phased approach. Athletes will be evaluated for clearance by the Oklahoma medical staff and will be continuously monitored and expected to adhere to several safety protocols and guidelines.

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Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio says he would prefer that his team hold preseason workouts in Milwaukee rather than its spring training home in Arizona if Major League Baseball decides to resume its season.

Attanasio said it would be a “real boost for everyone” to “bring the boys back in town” as he joined Brewers general manager David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell in a Zoom session with the Greater Milwaukee Committee, a group of area business leaders.

Attanasio acknowledged the team first would have to go through the “medical protocols” and assure local and state officials that the preseason workouts can be done safely at Miller Park.

Also during the session, Stearns discussed the Brewers’ COVID-19 testing plans and said that Counsell would have his own assigned seat in the home dugout as part of the team’s social distancing guidelines.

Counsell and Attanasio both noted that the shortened schedule would make it more important than ever for teams to keep their players healthy. Counsell noted how that might impact his managerial approach.

“It’s going to be important that we’re, I think, prudent with how much with how much usage all our players can have early in the season,” Counsell said.

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Ravens second-year receiver Miles Boykin plans to join quarterback Lamar Jackson and several other teammates in Florida for informal workouts while waiting for word on the NFL’s next move during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was planning on going down there before all this stuff happened,” Boykin said on a video-conference call Tuesday. “But next week I’ll be down there training with those guys.”

To this point, Boykin has been playing catch with backup quarterback Trace McSorley around Baltimore.

“The fact that I have Trace here to be able to work with me is huge,” Boykin said.

Boykin will join Jackson, second-year receiver Marquise Brown and several others in Florida.

“We’re still finalizing it. There are going to be a lot of guys down there,” Boykin said. “There’s only so much you can do in (virtual) meetings without being able to go out on the field.”

Drafted in the third round of the 2019 draft out of Notre Dame, Boykin had 13 catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie.

— David Ginsburg

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Defending America’s Cup champion Emirates Team New Zealand has its first race boat back after it was shipped to Europe for two preliminary regattas that were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Te Aihe (The Dolphin) returned to Auckland early Tuesday morning after being away for nearly four months. Team New Zealand last sailed Te Aihe on the Hauraki Gulf on Jan. 15. It left the base on Feb. 2, accompanied by 16 containers full of workshops, chase boats and everything else needed to support the team at America’s Cup World Series regattas in Cagliari, Italy, in late April and Portsmouth, England, in early June. Those regattas were canceled in March as the coronavirus spread around the world.

The boat traveled on four ships and visited 15 ports, including loading on and off in the New Zealand port of Tauranga, transhipped in Singapore each way and loaded off and on in Gioia Tauro, Italy.

“It is good to see her back sooner than expected,” logistics manager Andy Nottage said. “She has been on quite the adventure, but it is good to have her home in one piece thanks largely to the ongoing support of Maersk.”

Nottage said Te Aihe was shipped in a relative state of readiness, so it won’t take long to get it sailing again.”

The final ACWS regatta is set for just before Christmas in Auckland. The Prada Cup for challengers is set for Jan. 15-Feb. 22, with the winner advancing to face the Kiws in the 36th America’s Cup March 6-21.

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The North Carolina High School Athletic Association has extended its dead period for in-person workouts for prep athletes through at least June 15.

Commissioner Que Tucker said Tuesday that the organization’s board of directors voted to extend the dead period for an additional two weeks. She also said the NCHSAA’s sports medicine advisory committee will work with the board to finalize plans for a phased return to summer activities such as conditioning work.

In a conference call with reporters, Tucker said coaches and schools need time to make plans for workouts that follow health and safety guidelines, as well as to ensure they have enough necessary sanitation supplies.

Tucker said officials remain “hopeful” that they can play football with at least some fans in attendance this fall. She also said it would be “a last resort” to try to move a season because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

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The top men’s soccer league in Ukraine will resume Saturday in empty stadiums after a suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ukrainian Premier League says it has received approval from the country’s health ministry to restart. No games have been played since March 15.

The schedule foresees league games finishing July 19 with a European qualification playoff ending 10 days later.

According to UEFA rankings, Ukraine will be the second strongest league in Europe playing, behind only Germany.

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The leadoff event to the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating has been canceled by Skate Canada because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The event was scheduled for Aug. 26-29 in Richmond, British Columbia. It is the second competition of the seven-part series that has been canceled, with the Slovakia event the following week also not taking place.

“Skate Canada has closely monitored the provincial and federal health authorities position on the COVID-19 pandemic and is committed to the health and safety of the athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and spectators,” the organization said Tuesday.

“Due to the provincial quarantine guidelines for all travelers and social distancing requirements in effect at this time, Skate Canada regretfully made the decision to cancel the event.”

No decisions have been made on the other competitions, nor on the senior Grand Prix events.

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to announce the league’s return to play format this afternoon.

Bettman is set to make a televised address at 4:30 p.m. EDT about what hockey will look like if the NHL can resume the season this summer. That means a 24-team straight-to-playoffs format with the league’s other seven teams having their seasons ended.

The Players’ Association voted last week to approve the 24-team format proposed by the Return to Play committee. It involves the top four teams in each conference playing a mini-tournament for seeding, while the other 16 face off in best-of-five series to set the field.

There is still no timetable for the resumption of game action or when players can return to team facilities for voluntary workouts. This announcement does come on the heels of the league and NHLPA unveiling protocols for those workouts, including a limit of six players on the ice at a time.

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Conferences and television networks have agreed to an extension to next week’s deadline for determining the broadcast schedule for college football’s early season games.

The Football Bowl Subdivision conferences issued a joint statement Tuesday along with ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and their affiliated networks.

The statement said only that the game times would be set “at a later date as we all continue to prepare for the college football season.”

The deadline typically falls on June 1, which is Monday.

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Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted Tuesday that as long as the NFL’s Giants and Jets and the NHL’s Devils follow health and medical protocols, they could open training camps or even hold competition.

The NFL’s preseason and training camps wouldn’t begin until midsummer — teams are doing virtual workouts in place of the usual on-field activities because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the NHL is planning ways to complete the 2019-20 season. Should those plans include the Devils, they now can reopen their training facilities.

“Professional sports teams in NJ may return to training and even competition — if their leagues choose to move in that direction,” Murphy wrote on Twitter.

“We have been in constant discussions with teams about necessary protocols to protect the health and safety of players, coaches, and personnel.”

A Jets spokesman said: “We are working closely with Gov. Murphy’s office, the league and our medical staff to establish prudent, health and safety measures for our staff and players. Based on those guidelines, we will begin to open our facility using a phased approach at a time that is the most practical for our operations.”

The Giants echoed those sentiments and said: “With today’s announcement by the governor, we are finalizing our plans to reopen the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. We will continue to have as many employees as possible working remotely. For employees who need to return to work at our facility, we expect to begin that process next week, and we will do so in a systematic and safe way that adheres to the state’s guidelines and NFL protocols.”

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