Sports – Las Vegas Newspaper | Las Vegas News | Vegas Newspaper http://www.vegasnewspaper.com Breaking news, Las Vegas news, Celebrity & Sport news. Mon, 08 Jun 2020 01:00:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.19 The Latest: Bettman set to announce format if NHL returns http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/nhl-commissioner-gary-bettman-is-expected-to-announce-the-leagues-return-to-play-format-this-afternoon/ http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/nhl-commissioner-gary-bettman-is-expected-to-announce-the-leagues-return-to-play-format-this-afternoon/#respond Mon, 25 May 2020 23:49:58 +0000 http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/nhl-commissioner-gary-bettman-is-expected-to-announce-the-leagues-return-to-play-format-this-afternoon/ The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:——— 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 ...

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

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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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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Formula One carmaker McLaren says 1,200 jobs will be lost across its entire group’s operations because of the coronavirus outbreak.

It was not immediately clear how the cuts would affect the group’s F1 operation. The sport has yet to start its 2020 season amid the pandemic.

The McLaren Group says “the cancellation of motorsport events, the suspension of manufacturing and retail activities around the world and reduced demand for technology solutions have all led to a sudden impact” on its revenue-generating activities.

McLaren says the reduced budget-cap level for F1 teams also led to the job losses.

The cuts represent about a quarter of the group’s workforce.

McLaren executive chairman Paul Walsh says “we plan to emerge as an efficient, sustainable business with a clear course for returning to growth.”

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World TeamTennis says it is planning to allow up to 500 spectators at outdoor matches during its three-week season from July 12 to Aug. 2 at a resort in West Virginia.

All tennis events sanctioned by the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation are on hold at least until late July because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the WTT is not affiliated with those tours and does not need to abide by their decisions about when it is OK to compete. No ATP or WTA ranking points are available for its matches.

The WTT says it is increasing its prize money to $5 million. That is $1.5 million more than for its 2019 season.

The league is bringing all nine of its teams to one site at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, because of the pandemic instead of having matches around the United States.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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NASCAR champ Busch backs masks in public as common courtesy http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/kyle-busch-says-he-supports-wearing-a-mask-in-public-so-we-all-can-take-care-of-our-neighbor-amid-the-coronavirus-pandemic/ http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/kyle-busch-says-he-supports-wearing-a-mask-in-public-so-we-all-can-take-care-of-our-neighbor-amid-the-coronavirus-pandemic/#respond Mon, 25 May 2020 23:36:39 +0000 http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/kyle-busch-says-he-supports-wearing-a-mask-in-public-so-we-all-can-take-care-of-our-neighbor-amid-the-coronavirus-pandemic/ CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kyle Busch says he supports wearing a mask in public so “we all can take care of our neighbor” amid the coronavirus pandemic, a rare instance of the two-time NASCAR champion wading into a social issue.The reigning Cup champion rarely speaks on non-racing issues, but Busch entered the debate after images from ...

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kyle Busch says he supports wearing a mask in public so “we all can take care of our neighbor” amid the coronavirus pandemic, a rare instance of the two-time NASCAR champion wading into a social issue.The reigning Cup champion rarely speaks on non-racing issues, but Busch entered the debate after images from short tracks over the weekend showed packed grandstands with little social distancing and few people wearing masks.

Busch retweeted a photo from South Alabama Speedway in Ozark, Alabama, and added his own message Sunday before the Coca-Cola 600. He applauded fans for supporting their local short tracks but suggested mandatory masks for admission for “healthier practices.”

The responses were mixed, not unexpected when it comes to the most polarizing driver in NASCAR. Busch is beloved by his “Rowdy Nation” base but loathed by others for his overwhelming success and confident, sometimes confrontational manner.

After winning the Xfinity Series race Monday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway — his 97th career victory in that series — Busch was asked why he stepped into the debate on mask usage.

“With where we’re at today, people are saying that masks don’t mean anything,” Busch said. “I still think there’s a sense of human hygiene and taking care of your neighbor. You go to a racetrack and you cough because you get water down the wrong pipe or whatever it might be, or if you sneeze or whatever, at least you are keeping some of that to yourself rather than just spraying, right?”

Busch added he doesn’t think masks can fully stop the spread of the coronavirus but believes they are useful when social distancing can’t be practiced. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

“I saw the grandstands packed and just figured, ‘Hey, you know, we all can take care of our neighbor,’” he said. “That’s just kind of my idea. It’s arguable whether or not they really work. I just think it’s common courtesy.”

Under the health plan NASCAR is using since resuming its season on May 17, masks are required for all personnel on track property. Spectators are currently not permitted and NASCAR does not expect that to change through Talladega on June 21, which is as far as the schedule has been revised to date.

Everyone permitted to attend a race is on a pre-approved list and must pass through a health screening area before they can enter the venue. Masks must be worn starting at the health screening area, and NASCAR has said anyone not following guidelines is subject to a $50,000 fine and removal from the property.

There have been no flagrant violations, but fans did note that Busch and Chase Elliott were not wearing masks or socially distancing when Busch briefly consoled Elliott on pit road moments after Elliott had lost the 600. In that instance, both had just removed their helmets and climbed from their cars and neither had yet retrieved his mask.

Since NASCAR’s return, Busch has worn a variety of colorful masks that often pair with his firesuit or showcase primary sponsor M&M’s.

On the track, Busch finally scored a win Tuesday night in his grueling return from the 10-week shutdown. He entered all seven of the races NASCAR announced in its first revised schedule, a span that concludes Wednesday night with the fourth Cup race in 11 days.

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NASCAR’s Larson fired after sponsors walk over N-word slur http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/kyle-larson-has-been-fired-by-chip-ganassi-racing-two-days-after-the-nascar-driver-used-a-racial-slur-on-a-live-stream-of-a-virtual-race/ http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/kyle-larson-has-been-fired-by-chip-ganassi-racing-two-days-after-the-nascar-driver-used-a-racial-slur-on-a-live-stream-of-a-virtual-race/#respond Tue, 14 Apr 2020 03:34:04 +0000 http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/kyle-larson-has-been-fired-by-chip-ganassi-racing-two-days-after-the-nascar-driver-used-a-racial-slur-on-a-live-stream-of-a-virtual-race/ CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As sponsor after sponsor dropped Kyle Larson after he used a racial slur during a live-streamed virtual race, his NASCAR team owner was backed into a corner.Chip Ganassi could let McDonald’s and Credit One Bank and Chevrolet pull their funding and bankrupt his team or he could cut ties with the driver ...

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As sponsor after sponsor dropped Kyle Larson after he used a racial slur during a live-streamed virtual race, his NASCAR team owner was backed into a corner.Chip Ganassi could let McDonald’s and Credit One Bank and Chevrolet pull their funding and bankrupt his team or he could cut ties with the driver he had plucked from sprint car racing and groomed into an elite stock car driver.

It was essentially out of Ganassi’s hands.

He fired the 27-year-old Larson on Tuesday in what he described as “an emotional call” — the only move possible to stabilize his organization.

“I told Kyle he can come back from this; he can even come back from this with our team,” Ganassi told The Associated Press. “But there really wasn’t any choice.”

Larson’s stunning downfall took less than 48 hours, unusual in its details and coming with sports everywhere basically shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic. The most coveted upcoming free agent in NASCAR lost almost every sponsor he had in what could ultimately be an eight-figure blunder.

Larson loses his 2020 salary plus the massive payday expected from his next contract. If he eventually lands with another team, it will surely be at a far discounted rate than the value he had built since moving full-time to NASCAR in 2013.

The unraveling began Sunday night when Larson appeared to lose communication on his headset with his spotter while competing in one of the iRacing virtual events that have grown in popularity during the sports hiatus.

During a check of his microphone, he asked his spotter, “You can’t hear me?” That was followed by the N-word. The slur was directed at his spotter, who is white.

He was suspended without pay by Ganassi Monday, then suspended indefinitely by NASCAR and Larson, who is half Japanese, was ordered to complete sensitivity training, but primary sponsors McDonald’s and Credit One Bank pulled their support within hours. Chevrolet suspended its relationship with Larson, and all but one commercial partner indicated they were walking away.

Without funding on the No. 42 Chevrolet as long as Larson was in the car, Ganassi had to act. Ross Chastain, under contract as a development driver for Ganassi, will likely replace Larson whenever racing resumes.

“After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson,” Ganassi said in a statement. “As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organization. As we continued to evaluate the situation with all the relevant parties, it became obvious that this was the only appropriate course of action to take.“

Larson’s famed sprint car career could also be in jeopardy: Kyle Larson Racing fields a Chevrolet in the World of Outlaws Series that is sponsored in part by Lucas Oil, which also ended its partnership with Larson.

Larson also late last year added a midget car to his team and drove it to seven wins in eight races to close 2019, then opened 2020 with a victory at the prestigious Chili Bowl in his 13th try.

Larson had been prepping to test free agency for the first time in his short career and Ganassi was expected to find himself in a bidding war for his franchise NASCAR driver.

Larson was thought to be deciding between Ganassi or a move to Tony Stewart’s NASCAR team. He also might have been a long-shot candidate to replace seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson at Hendrick Motorsports, although Rick Hendrick isn’t as generous in allowing his drivers to compete in other series and giving up sprint cars was a deal-breaker for Larson.

But his career imploded when his slur went viral in part because viewers can follow the virtual races on the gaming app Twitch and eavesdrop on the drivers’ typical lighthearted banter. Larson apologized in a video posted on his social media accounts.

“I made a mistake, said the word that should never, ever be said,” Larson said. “There is no excuse for that. I wasn’t raised that way. It is just an awful thing to say. I feel very sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community and especially the African-American community.

“I understand the damage is probably unrepairable and I own up to that.”

He reached out to many sponsors and friends to apologize. Brent Powell, president of Plan B Sales and Marketing, was the only sponsor to remain behind Larson. He said the driver called him personally to “express his regret about what transpired.”

“We know he is an awesome young man that made a mistake and we are going to stand behind him 100% and help any way we can,” Powell said.

Larson, whose grandparents spent time in an internment camp in California during World War II, climbed from short-track racing into NASCAR through its “Drive for Diversity” program. He is the only driver of Japanese descent to win a major NASCAR race.

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More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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With hockey on hiatus, storied Stanley Cup is locked away http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/the-stanley-cup-is-locked-away-inside-its-case-while-the-nhl-is-on-hold-because-of-the-pandemic/ http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/the-stanley-cup-is-locked-away-inside-its-case-while-the-nhl-is-on-hold-because-of-the-pandemic/#respond Tue, 14 Apr 2020 03:33:43 +0000 http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/the-stanley-cup-is-locked-away-inside-its-case-while-the-nhl-is-on-hold-because-of-the-pandemic/ Phil Pritchard spent a recent afternoon carrying groceries back to his home outside Toronto — a far cry from taking the Stanley Cup around North America in the heat of the NHL playoffs. Hockey is on hold, the Stanley Cup is locked away in its case at the Hockey Hall of Fame and its longtime ...

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Phil Pritchard spent a recent afternoon carrying groceries back to his home outside Toronto — a far cry from taking the Stanley Cup around North America in the heat of the NHL playoffs.

Hockey is on hold, the Stanley Cup is locked away in its case at the Hockey Hall of Fame and its longtime keeper has shed his familiar white gloves to work from home like so many others during the coronavirus pandemic. Pritchard makes the 30-minute drive to check on the Cup and the Hall’s other trophies twice a week and make sure all is well at a quiet time usually filled with the buzz of playoff games.

“The Stanley Cup is put away, the NHL trophies — everything is locked up and everything,” Pritchard said. “Everything’s safe and sound.”

No one knows when it will be safe for the most storied trophy in sports to be in the public eye again. Upon pausing the season March 12, Commissioner Gary Bettman said the NHL’s “goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup.”

That particular moment is the culmination of each season and a long journey for the Cup under the watchful eye of Pritchard, Mike Bolt, Howie Borrow and its other handlers. One of its final stops this season came in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, before the final few across Canada were canceled.

This time of year is typically among the busiest for the 128-year-old trophy. A year ago, it went from President Donald Trump’s Oval Office desk during the 2018 champion Washington Capitals’ White House visit to a concert stage in Tampa, Florida, to mark the opening night of the playoffs and on to appearances on the “Today” show set in New York and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Not this year. With distancing regulations in effect, Pritchard and his colleagues are mostly cataloging items from home. He said the Hall of Fame hasn’t yet begun gathering items from the most recent games but acknowledged they might become part of the “Year in Review” display if the season doesn’t resume.

“If hockey doesn’t continue this year at any level, it’s going to be a different display,” Pritchard said. “We’re always trying to preserve some part of hockey. With everything closed down, it’s like there’s no hockey history at all. But there is hockey history happening. It’s just happening in a different way that nobody’s ever used to.”

Already the ECHL’s Kelly Cup and Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup won’t be handed out after the remainder of those seasons were canceled. Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said he wasn’t sure what the value would be of winning the Stanley Cup in 2020 after such a delay.

“I know they so badly want to give out the Stanley Cup this year, but in all seriousness it’s not going to be like winning a real Stanley Cup because the season wasn’t finished,” said Doughty, who won it in 2012 and 2014.

Bettman has refused to speculate about not awarding the Cup, which has only happened twice since 1893: in 1919, when the final couldn’t be completed because of the Spanish flu pandemic, and 2005 when the season was wiped out by a lockout.

The inscription “1919 Montreal Canadiens Seattle Metropolitans Series Not Completed” remains on the neck of the Cup, something Pritchard has seen many times since starting his job in December 1988. Seattle’s pending addition to the NHL in 2021 and the 100-year anniversary of the year without a Cup champion made him think about it, but he is more concerned about current events.

“The focus for me and everyone else right now is to make sure our family and friends are OK and see what happens from there,” Pritchard said.

Of course, if the NHL can get back and crown a new champion, Pritchard will be there.

“I’ll have my white gloves on,” he said.

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Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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Tour de France postponed, could start in late August http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/the-tour-de-france-has-joined-the-long-list-of-sports-events-to-be-postponed-because-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic/ http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/the-tour-de-france-has-joined-the-long-list-of-sports-events-to-be-postponed-because-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic/#respond Tue, 14 Apr 2020 03:29:33 +0000 http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/the-tour-de-france-has-joined-the-long-list-of-sports-events-to-be-postponed-because-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic/ PARIS — After weeks of holding out hope that the Tour de France would be able to go ahead as planned, the world’s most famous cycling race was finally added to the list of sporting events postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. The three-week race could still take place this year, however, with French newspapers reporting ...

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PARIS — After weeks of holding out hope that the Tour de France would be able to go ahead as planned, the world’s most famous cycling race was finally added to the list of sporting events postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-week race could still take place this year, however, with French newspapers reporting late Tuesday that a new start date has been set for August. Both L’Equipe and Le Parisien said organizers are now hoping to stage the race from Aug. 29-Sept. 20.

That new time slot would see the race end on Champs-Élysées just as the rescheduled French Open tennis tournament starts a few miles away in western Paris.

Tour organizer Amaury Sport Organisation did not immediately reply to a request for confirmation from The Associated Press. But local authorities in Haute-Savoie region tweeted that the last of the mountain stages will pass through its rugged and daunting climbs on Sept. 17 on the race’s 18th stage.

The Tour was set to start on June 27 in the Riviera city of Nice. But that effectively became impossible on Monday night when French President Emmanuel Macron announced in his speech to the nation that all public events with large crowds have been canceled until at least mid-July.

“Given that it’s now impossible that the Tour starts at its planned date, we are consulting with the (International Cycling Union) to try and find new dates,” ASO had said earlier Tuesday.

The last time the Tour was not held was in 1946, with the nation still emerging from World War II. It was also stopped during WWI.

Holding the race without legions of fans on the roadsides and mountain passes of France — an idea previously proposed by French Sports Minister Roxana Mărăcineanu — is not something organizers are likely to favor.

Millions of fans watch each year’s race in a festive atmosphere across many regions. This year’s event has 21 stages, with the longest of them stretching 218 kilometers (135 miles). Thousands of police officers are needed to keep crowds under control and help negotiate safe passage for riders.

Riders, too, have to be physically ready to tackle the grueling race — and able to actually attend it. After weeks of confinement, competitors would likely need several more weeks to get into racing shape.

Borders would have to be open, too, so racers like last year’s winner — Colombian rider Egan Bernal — can travel to France.

Juggling the cycling calendar is also tricky because of the various races scheduled throughout the season, including the Giro d’Italia and the Spanish Vuelta.

The Giro, which had been set for May, was called off late last month.

The Spanish race, which is also owned by ASO, is still on the schedule for Aug. 14-Sept. 6 but could feasibly be moved forward by a week or two so as not to clash with the Tour.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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Pro wrestling ‘essential’ under Florida governor’s order http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/with-florida-under-a-new-coronavirus-induced-lockdown-theres-one-business-deemed-essential-by-floridas-governor-that-is-raising-eyebrows-pro-wrestling/ http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/with-florida-under-a-new-coronavirus-induced-lockdown-theres-one-business-deemed-essential-by-floridas-governor-that-is-raising-eyebrows-pro-wrestling/#respond Tue, 14 Apr 2020 03:10:02 +0000 http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/with-florida-under-a-new-coronavirus-induced-lockdown-theres-one-business-deemed-essential-by-floridas-governor-that-is-raising-eyebrows-pro-wrestling/ ORLANDO, Fla. — Body slams and pile drives can go on in the Sunshine State. With Florida under a lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s one business deemed essential by Florida’s governor that is raising some eyebrows: pro wrestling. Florida’s top emergency official last week amended Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stay-at-home order which was issued ...

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Body slams and pile drives can go on in the Sunshine State.

With Florida under a lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s one business deemed essential by Florida’s governor that is raising some eyebrows: pro wrestling.

Florida’s top emergency official last week amended Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stay-at-home order which was issued at the start of the month. Pro sports were added to a list of essential businesses allowed to stay open in an April 9 memorandum to include “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience … only if the location is closed to the general public.”

The amendment seems almost tailor-made for World Wrestling Entertainment. The WWE Performance Center is located in metro Orlando so chairman and CEO Vince McMahon is able to continuing putting on his show — without fans.

“We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times,” WWE spokesman Joe Villa said in a statement.

A WWE employee tested positive for coronavirus in the days after the company recorded shows at the WWE Performance Center, and the unnamed employee’s roommate also was showing symptoms, but the company deems the matter “low risk” to wrestlers and staff, the statement said.

The statement also said the employee and roommate were exposed to two people who work in acute health care on March 26.

“The employee had no contact with anyone from WWE since being exposed to those two individuals, is doing well, and made a complete recovery,” Villa said.

At a news conference on Monday, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said the WWE Performance Center initially wasn’t deemed an essential business that could stay open during a lockdown, before the list was amended. But that changed after a conversation with the governor’s office.

“With some conversation with the governor’s office, regarding the governor’s order, they were deemed an essential business. Therefore, they were allowed to remain open,” Demings said in Orlando.

The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to an email inquiry. The amended list of essential businesses also added mental health employees and theme park workers needed to take care of animals and maintain the property.

In an email, the Florida State Emergency Operations Center said the sports activities and theme park additions to the list were added “because they are critical to Florida’s economy.” Horse racing has continued operations, with Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach remaining open without fans but still taking bets online; the state gets a small percentage of each bet placed. But the agency didn’t answer a question about what other pro sports would be allowed under the order, though any sporting event — such as an NBA or NHL game — involving more than 10 people would run afoul of state and federal guidelines.

It seems that point may be moot, since the NBA suspended its season on March 11 and the NHL quickly followed suit. Teams have said it would take several weeks to get players ready to compete again, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said it will not be possible to make any decisions about the possible resumption of this season until at least May.

The WWE Performance Center is a finishing school of sorts for wrestlers. The training facility teaches wrestlers how to develop their brand, manage money, deal with the media and have a life after wrestling.

Vince McMahon, and his wife, Linda, have deep connections to President Donald Trump, whose support last year launched DeSantis into the Florida Governor’s Mansion. Trump hotels have hosted Wrestlemania events. Trump himself has wrestled in matches, and he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Linda McMahon was Trump’s first head of the Small Business Administration.

WWE said it is “producing content” on a closed set with only essential workers at the facility. It is “taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff,” the company said in a statement.

But Demings, the Orange County mayor, expressed concern.

“If one of the family members in my house tested positive, that would be concerning to me. We would have to make some provisions in my house to make sure the rest of us did not get it,” Demings said. “I would assume from a business perspective that the WWE is doing that kind of analysis on its family.”

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Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP

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The Latest: Greg Maddux vows to donate to virus victims http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/baseball-hall-of-famer-greg-maddux-spent-his-54th-birthday-live-tweeting-as-mlb-network-replayed-some-of-the-best-performances-of-his-brilliant-career/ http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/baseball-hall-of-famer-greg-maddux-spent-his-54th-birthday-live-tweeting-as-mlb-network-replayed-some-of-the-best-performances-of-his-brilliant-career/#respond Tue, 14 Apr 2020 03:03:19 +0000 http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/baseball-hall-of-famer-greg-maddux-spent-his-54th-birthday-live-tweeting-as-mlb-network-replayed-some-of-the-best-performances-of-his-brilliant-career/ The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world: ——— Baseball Hall of Famer Greg Maddux spent his 54th birthday live tweeting as MLB Network replayed some of the best performances of his brilliant career. He also was raising money for coronavirus victims. Maddux vowed to match up to $54,000 ...

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

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Baseball Hall of Famer Greg Maddux spent his 54th birthday live tweeting as MLB Network replayed some of the best performances of his brilliant career. He also was raising money for coronavirus victims.

Maddux vowed to match up to $54,000 in donations for virus victims as part of his birthday celebration.

One of the game’s most notorious pranksters, Maddux took the occasion to poke fun at some of his former Atlanta Braves teammates, including John Smoltz.

“Who’s watching 1995 World Series Game 1 on @MLBNetwork,” Maddux wrote during a showing of his two-hit masterpiece. “Solid dugout shot when we could see smoltzy with some hair.”

Maddux also discussed a disputed call in the pre-instant replay era, which brought longtime Braves manager Bobby Cox out of the dugout to argue with the umpires.

“Where’s replay when you need it?” Maddux tweeted. “Great to see Bobby always fighting for his players.”

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There will be no Golden Spikes Award this year, ending a streak of 42 consecutive seasons.

USA Baseball made the announcement Tuesday. It followed the NCAA’s decision to cancel spring sports seasons due to the new coronavirus.

Past winners included future NL MVPs Buster Posey, Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant. Bob Horner was the first Golden Spikes winner in 1978.

———

New Mississippi State women’s basketball coach Nikki McCray-Penson expressed thoughts and prayers for first responders, health care workers and people affected by the coronavirus pandemic and this week’s severe weather that swept across the South.

The Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer then stated her desire to keep the Bulldogs’ program among the nation’s elite and win a national championship.

“My expectations for the program are to continue to build on this tradition and compete for SEC championships and national championships every year,” McCray-Penson said Tuesday during an introductory video teleconference.

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The Nashville Predators have raised $2.7 million to help both with tornado and COVID-19 relief.

The Predators started raising money after tornadoes hit Nashville and Middle Tennessee in early March. Then the franchise included help for the coronavirus pandemic once the NHL stopped play along with the cancellation of the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament in Nashville.

Sean Henry, the Predators’ president and chief executive officer, said Tuesday that commitment to the community is a cornerstone of the franchise and the Predators are trying to help rebuild and provide help for a return to normalcy as quickly and safely as possible.

That includes Predators’ owners, players, coaches and management creating a $1 million fund to pay event staff for canceled concerts and postponed NHL games. The Predators also donated $100,000 to the Mayor’s Relief Fund, hosted blood drives and have been delivering meals to Nashville police precincts and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Predators captain Roman Josi and his wife, Ellie, gave $20,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and another $20,000 to a local homeless ministry.

The Predators also gave donors to the team’s foundation a chance to redirect money to tornado and COVID-19 relief with $700,000 in grants being handed out this month.

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All-Star Celtics forward Jayson Tatum says he hasn’t touched a basketball since scoring 30 points in a win over the Indiana Pacers on March 10.

“I got weights and bands and a bike to do some cardio,” Tatum said Tuesday after informing Emoni Bates he became the first sophomore to win Gatorade’s national player of the year award in basketball. “It’s tough, but on the other side, I know there are more important things going on in the world,”

Since the NBA suspended its season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tatum has tried to make the best of an extended stay at his home in the Boston area.

“I’ve been taking time to relax and be at home with my son every day,” he said in a telephone interview. “I am trying to enjoy this time and the things we usually take for granted.”

— AP Sports Writer Larry Lage reporting.

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Major League Soccer says its hopes of returning in mid-May are “extremely unlikely.”

In a statement Tuesday, the league said guidance from federal and local public health officials is making it unlikely the league will be able to restart in about a month.

MLS says the goal remains to play as many games as possible, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to potentially play an entire season even if there are enough dates available.

MLS currently has a training moratorium for players through April 24.

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The NHL will remain on pause through at least the end of the month.

The league on Tuesday announced it was extending its self-quarantine recommendation for players, coaches and staff through April 30. The announcement marks the third time the NHL has pushed back its timetable since suspending play on March 12 because of the new coronavirus.

The most recent self-quarantine recommendation was supposed to run through Wednesday. The recommendation means team facilities will remain closed to players.

Players and staff were previously given the opportunity to self-isolate at their offseason homes.

There is no timetable of when play might resume and whether the NHL will be able to complete the regular season or start the playoffs, which could stretch into September. There were 189 games remaining when play was suspended.

— AP Hockey Writer John Wawrow reporting.

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The German soccer league has delayed a meeting of clubs that was expected to set out a timetable for resuming games in empty stadiums.

Clubs from the top two divisions were to meet Friday but that has been delayed until April 23.

The league had hoped to resume play next month but Germany’s federal political system could allow numerous state and federal officials to obstruct games if they disagree.

The league says clubs need extra time to prepare and that any decisions made will be “based on the current political decision-making situation at federal and state level over the coming week.”

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The Senior British Open golf tournament has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The event was scheduled to take place at Sunningdale from July 23-26.

R&A official Johnnie Cole-Hamilton says organizers are looking at alternative options to host the tournament “later in the year if at all possible.”

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UEFA says it will host another round of calls next week for European soccer leaders to address the shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The UEFA executive committee is set to join by video link on April 23. It will follow separate days of calls with UEFA’s 55 member federations and club soccer officials.

UEFA is giving priority to completing national league and cup competitions. One contingency plan is for games to continue into July and August and decide entries for the Champions League and Europa League next season.

This season’s Champions League and Europa League could resume once domestic titles are decided.

The UEFA executive committee last month postponed the European Championship by one year to 2021. Other games affected include World Cup qualifying groups, the 2021 Nations League finals and the women’s Euro 2021 tournament in England.

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The Asian Football Confederation says it has postponed “all matches and competitions scheduled to take place in May and June until further notice.”

Most of the 32 Asian Champions League teams played two group games in February before the coronavirus outbreak caused a shutdown.

The AFC says it “will explore all possible options in order to complete” those groups.

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The first women’s professional golf tournament in Saudi Arabia has found new dates in October.

The inaugural Saudi Ladies International on the Ladies European Tour was to be played last month but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The $1 million event will now be played from Oct. 8-11 at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club at King Abdullah Economic City.

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The Tour de France won’t begin as originally planned because French President Emmanuel Macron has canceled all public events with large crowds through mid-July in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tour organizers say it is now impossible for the three-week race to start on June 27 in the Riviera city of Nice as scheduled.

It is unclear if cycling’s biggest event will be scrapped from the race calendar. New plans are likely to be announced before the end of the month following consultations with the governing body of cycling.

———

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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Oklahoma State’s Gundy targets May 1 return to football http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/oklahoma-state-coach-mike-gundy-says-he-hopes-to-have-his-team-return-to-its-facilities-on-may-1/ http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/oklahoma-state-coach-mike-gundy-says-he-hopes-to-have-his-team-return-to-its-facilities-on-may-1/#respond Tue, 07 Apr 2020 08:11:02 +0000 http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/oklahoma-state-coach-mike-gundy-says-he-hopes-to-have-his-team-return-to-its-facilities-on-may-1/ Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Tuesday he hopes to have his team return to its facilities on May 1, a proposed timetable that would defy federal social-distancing guidelines and was quickly disputed by the university and its athletic director. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended against gatherings of 50 or more ...

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Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Tuesday he hopes to have his team return to its facilities on May 1, a proposed timetable that would defy federal social-distancing guidelines and was quickly disputed by the university and its athletic director.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended against gatherings of 50 or more people through May 11 to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, which as of Tuesday had infected more than 380,000 people in the United States — more than any other country in the world — and killed 81,000 worldwide, including at least 11,000 in the U.S.

Gundy, who has been outspoken about his right-wing politics, also said in a conference call with reporters that the media has been too negative in its coverage of what he called the “Chinese virus.”

Most Americans are living under stay-at-home orders, many of which extend past May 1, although Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, has only urged people under 65 to stay home while banning gatherings of more than 10 people through April 30.

Gundy said he hopes there will be enough tests available in a few weeks that he could get his assistant coaches and support personnel tested for the virus, followed by the players, so his program can get back to business.

“I can’t say right now, but that’s the plan,” Gundy said. “We have to have a plan, and the plan right now is for them to start on May 1.”

Like many Division I football programs, Oklahoma State has more than 100 players on its roster along with a coaching staff of 35 people. The university has canceled in-person classes for the spring semester and moved its May graduation ceremonies to December.

Following Gundy’s comments, OSU issued a statement saying, essentially, that the decision about when to bring the football team back together wouldn’t be up to the coach.

“We will adhere to the advice of public health experts who are making informed decisions in the best interest of the citizens of our nation and state based on sound scientific data,” the university statement said. “We will also abide by the federal and state mandates as well as Big 12 guidelines. We will not compromise the health and well-being of our campus community. This virus is deadly and we will do our part at Oklahoma State to help blunt the spread.”

Athletic director Mike Holder also declined to back Gundy’s timeline, saying in a statement: “May 1 seems a little ambitious.”

Gundy said he was interested in hearing more positive news about the COVID-19 pandemic, which has crippled economies and forced restrictions on the movement of people around the world in an effort to stop the virus from spreading further and overwhelming health care systems.

“I’m seeing total number of cases, but what I’m not seeing is how many number of those cases that are now back to a normal life,” Gundy said, adding: “It’s really interesting to me to see with the mainstream media, sadly enough, just how negative everybody can be. Let’s just report the news. Let’s start putting some things in there that are positive, because I know there’s positive out there.”

The NCAA has canceled all spring sports, and there is no date in place for college teams to return to practice. Gundy said if his target date doesn’t work, he’d be willing to push things back — but not too far.

“It might get backed up two weeks,” Gundy said. “I don’t know, I can’t make that call. But if it does, we’ll start with the employees of this company — the ones that come in this building. Then we’ll bring the players in, and slowly but surely. We test them all in. Is it 100 percent? No, it’s not 100 percent.”

Gundy said he isn’t trying to be insensitive to those who are sick, but he believes things need to get back to normal sooner rather than later. Oklahoma State is scheduled to begin its season on Sept. 3, hosting Oregon State.

“The curve’s going to flatten so we can get our state back to work,” Gundy said. “So we just continue with our safety measures to give us the best chance to get back to work and get back to a normal daily operation as soon as possible.”

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25

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Iconic sports cities turn eerie during coronavirus shutdown http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/they-are-cities-defined-by-iconic-sporting-events/ http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/they-are-cities-defined-by-iconic-sporting-events/#respond Tue, 07 Apr 2020 07:12:33 +0000 http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/they-are-cities-defined-by-iconic-sporting-events/ They are cities defined by iconic sporting events. When Augusta comes up, one instantly thinks of the Masters. If Omaha is mentioned, it’s often in the same breath with the College World Series. It’s hard to imagine Louisville without the Kentucky Derby. In the coming weeks, The Associated Press will look at those cities and ...

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They are cities defined by iconic sporting events.

When Augusta comes up, one instantly thinks of the Masters. If Omaha is mentioned, it’s often in the same breath with the College World Series. It’s hard to imagine Louisville without the Kentucky Derby.

In the coming weeks, The Associated Press will look at those cities and others like them — from Williamsport to Oklahoma City to Cheyenne — to examine how the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic is an especially wrenching blow.

“This is who we are,” said Jason Fink, the chamber of commerce president in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which has been synonymous with the Little League World Series since it was founded in 1947.

They can certainly relate to that sentiment in Augusta.

The Masters got its start in 1934 on the grounds of a former nursery and the golf tournament is usually held the first full week of April.

This week, the city looks like a ghost town.

Augusta National Golf Club is all locked up. Washington Road, which should’ve been teeming with cars and commerce and humanity, is desolate instead.

A tradition unlike any other has become a year unlike any since the end of World II.

No ticket brokers offering to buy and sell the coveted badges. No long lines trying to land a table at TBonz steakhouse.

“It’s a big hiccup,” said Mark Cumins, who co-founded TBonz in 1985 and serves up a who’s who of golfers, athletes and celebrities during Masters week. “It’s not going to destroy us, but it hurts.”

While the Masters has been rescheduled for November, it won’t be quite the same.

Another event seeping in tradition, the Kentucky Derby is headed for quite a shakeup — assuming it actually gets to the starting gate.

The Run For The Roses is usually held on the first Saturday of May. Because of the pandemic, hold those mint juleps until Labor Day weekend, when the first leg of the Triple Crown is crammed into a slot that also marks the start of college football season.

Not so fortunate: the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska and the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, both of which have already been wiped from the 2020 calendar.

The NCAA Division I baseball championship has been decided in Omaha for the past 70 years. The eight-team tournament is such a part of the city’s identity that $100 million TD Ameritrade Park was constructed a decade ago in exchange for a 25-year promise not to move the event.

Rich Tokheim’s sports apparel shop is right across the street from the 24,000-seat stadium, which is dark most of the year other than the occasional local college game played before sparse crowds. More than half Tokheim’s annual revenue comes from those 11 or 12 days when the CWS is held each June.

“We’re here because of the College World Series,” he said. “It’s just so many people.”

Oklahoma City will feel a similar blow in late May and early June, when it was supposed to host the Division I softball tournament for the 30th time.

To accommodate what were expected to be record crowds, USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium underwent a 4,000-seat expansion that raised its capacity to about 13,000.

All the new seats were already sold out.

Turns out, they won’t be needed this year.

Other prominent events are still clinging to the hope of being held.

But each day of mounting deaths tolls and millions of people locked down in their homes makes it increasingly unlikely that either the Little League World Series — actually played in South Williamsport — or the Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming’s capital city will carry on as planned in 2020.

“If we were going to play the world series, traditionally like we have done for many, many years, we need to be playing and picking teams by the middle of June,” said Little League President Stephen Keener, who has yet to set a drop-dead date for deciding whether the season-ending tournament will be held in its usual August slot.

Cheyenne Frontier Days, billed as the “Daddy of ’em all,” has celebrated the cowboy way of life for 123 consecutive years. In 2019, it drew more than a quarter-million people to what is essentially a supersized county fair, a mix of rodeo events, musical acts, artery-busting food and carnival rides stretching over 10 days in July.

For now, Frontier Days remains on the calendar.

But the countdown clock on the festival’s web site is a stark reminder that time is running out on a festival that generated nearly $28 million for the county a year ago. .

“Through all the wars, through the depression, we’ve never missed a year,” lamented CEO Tom Hirsig, whose event is scheduled from July 17-26. “It certainly wouldn’t be the end of Cheyenne Frontier Days, but it could change the face of it to miss a year.”

Augusta National, which includes some of the world’s wealthiest and most influential people among its members, can weather the pandemic’s financial impact better than most sports institutions.

But it’s going to be a much tougher blow for those outside the gates, who rely on the Masters to provide a huge boost to their bottom lines. It remains to be seen how many will still be around in November to reap the benefits of a rescheduled tournament.

The Masters is even more intertwined with the local community because of all the private homes that are rented out to handle the huge influx of tournament spectators, sponsors and media who descend on Augusta each year — far more than can be handled by the limited hotel space.

This is usually a week when thousands of locals head for the beach or take a cruise.

Now, most everyone is stuck at home.

Sports — and some of its most iconic cities — have gone dark.

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Follow AP National Writer Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and find his work at https://apnews.com

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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Players, managers intrigued by MLB’s all-Arizona option http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/players-and-managers-are-intrigued-by-major-league-baseballs-arizona-option-putting-all-30-teams-in-the-phoenix-area-and-playing-in-empty-ballparks/ http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/players-and-managers-are-intrigued-by-major-league-baseballs-arizona-option-putting-all-30-teams-in-the-phoenix-area-and-playing-in-empty-ballparks/#respond Tue, 07 Apr 2020 05:21:07 +0000 http://www.vegasnewspaper.com/players-and-managers-are-intrigued-by-major-league-baseballs-arizona-option-putting-all-30-teams-in-the-phoenix-area-and-playing-in-empty-ballparks/ Boston’s Chris Sale, out for the season following Tommy John surgery, thought about the prospect of his teammates sequestered in the Phoenix area for an extended period if Major League Baseball and its players adopt an all-Arizona start to the season. “I don’t know if I could look at my kids just through a screen ...

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Boston’s Chris Sale, out for the season following Tommy John surgery, thought about the prospect of his teammates sequestered in the Phoenix area for an extended period if Major League Baseball and its players adopt an all-Arizona start to the season.

“I don’t know if I could look at my kids just through a screen for four or five months. Same thing goes with my wife,” the pitcher said Tuesday. “That’s a long time. But people have done it in harsh scenarios, I guess. I think there’s a lot of figuring out to do.”

Putting all 30 teams in the Phoenix area this season and playing in empty ballparks was among the ideas discussed Monday during a call among five top officials from MLB and the players’ association that was led by Commissioner Rob Manfred, people familiar with the discussion told The Associated Press. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no details were announced.

With its season delayed due to the new coronavirus, both sides are searching for ways to get under way. Kansas City manager Mike Matheny would feel privileged to help the country return to a semblance of normalcy and provide an escape for fans.

“Just jump in and trust that we may not know when we’ll reconnect with our families, and trust that when health officials decide it’s OK we’ll be able to do that,” Matheny said. “But in the meantime, do something that would really help the healing process.”

Baseball officials intend to study which options may be viable economically and would gain necessary approvals. The league said it has not yet sought approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or from the players’ association.

“MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement. “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.”

Arizona has 10 spring training ballparks plus the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field all within about 50 miles. Phoenix Municipal Stadium — Oakland’s old spring training base and now Arizona State’s stadium — is an option along with Grand Canyon’s Brazell Field.

Chase Field could host several games each day following its switch to an artificial surface ahead of the 2019 season.

“We would not have been able to do it with grass, but now with the synthetic grass, absolutely,” Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall said.

Baseball’s look would be different in empty ballparks. Players from the Orioles and the Chicago White Sox still recall playing in a deserted Camden Yards in 2015 when civil unrest caused a closed-doors game. The game sped along in 2 hours, 3 minutes.

“It was a weird feeling having nobody in the stands,” said Sale, a member of those White Sox. “But sometimes you got to adapt. Sometimes you got to do some things for the greater good of what’s going on around you.”

That was a one-off. This would be every day, pretty much 15 games a day.

“My sense is that it divorces the game from the fans except via television, and that’s a mistake,” former Commissioner Fay Vincent said. “I don’t think a televised game without an audience and without fan reaction is a great idea. I think it’s born in desperation. I’m a traditionalist and a bit of a romantic. I think we ought to wait until we can present the game in its best light.”

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego maintained player and public health would be the top priorities.

“There is not a person on the planet who doesn’t want to get back to a time and place marked by familiarity, and there is nothing more familiar than sports, especially the great American pastime of baseball,” she said in a statement. “All of our lives post-COVID-19 will look different. At the city we value flexibility and innovation and are willing to work with the many different sports franchises that call Phoenix home, but only if public health leads every single discussion.”

Former manager Jim Leyland thinks the game will return to the field at some point this year.

“I do applaud people that are trying to be creative and come up with different ideas,” he said. “At the end of the day, they’ll come up with some type of a wonderful package. It’s just a matter of when that’s going to be allowed.”

Starting the season in Arizona presents plenty of complications:

SOME LIKE IT HOT

Temperatures average a high of 105 in Phoenix in June and the thermometer has just started to dip at 5 p.m., when presumably many games would start in order to be in prime time on the East Coast. Chase Field’s retractable roof and air conditioning could make it a site of doubleheaders and even tripleheaders.

EXPANDED ROSTERS

Given the heat and the compacted schedule, active rosters could be expanded from 26. With teams isolated and the status of minor leagues uncertain, extra players also could be kept in the group.

MONEY MATTERS

How much would it cost to put teams and the personnel that travel with them in hotels for double the usual time (no true home games, except for the D-Backs)? There presumably would be savings with not needing charter flights for road trips, but what percentage of that cost was committed in advance? In addition, the absence of ticket revenue would be damaging for many teams. Would player salaries be cut? Who gets to sell stadium signage?

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE

Would the 15 spring training tenant teams in Arizona always get the home clubhouses? Would they have an advantage from playing in the ballparks during the exhibition season?

THE TUBE

Playing in empty ballparks would keep the money flowing from regional sports networks and the national television contracts with Fox, ESPN and Turner. There might even be expanded national broadcasts.

TESTING

Players, team staff and ballpark, transportation and hotel personnel would have to be tested frequently for coronavirus.

ISOLATION

What is the rule if a player’s wife is giving birth, or if he has a sick parent, spouse or child? Would he be allowed to leave? And if so, would he be quarantined upon his return?

ROBOTS

Would the automatic ball/strike system being tested in the minors replace home plate umpires calling pitches, allowing them to keep social distance from batters and catchers?

REPLAY

Spring training ballparks are not wired for video review. Would it be worth the cost or would MLB go back to the pre-2008 human eye standard?

SCHEDULES

With teams in the same area, would three- and four-game series be standard or would MLB mix it up? During spring training, teams usually switch opponents on a daily basis.

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Blum reported from New York, Brandt from Phoenix.

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AP Sports Writers Kyle Hightower and Dave Skretta contributed to this report.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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