As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to impact the U.S., major sports leagues are starting to adjust their operations in response to the outbreak.
The Golden State Warriors will become the first NBA team to play home games in an empty arena. Due to a city-wide ban of public events garnering over 1,000 attendees, the team will host the Brooklyn Nets on March 12 with no fans in attendance.
“Due to escalating concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, and in consultation with the City and County of San Francisco, tomorrow night’s game vs. the Nets at Chase Center will be played without fans,” the Warriors tweeted from their official account. “Fans with tickets to this game will receive a refund in the amount paid.”
San Francisco’s action to contain the spread of the virus has also impacted the MLB’s Giants. The sluggers will no longer host a March 24 exhibition game against regional rival Oakland at Oracle Park. Their regular season home opener is slated to take place April 3.
“We have been in close coordination with Major League Baseball and our local health and government agencies to monitor and plan for any potential impacts of COVID-19,” the Giants organization said in a statement. “In light of the City and County San Francisco’s announcement today to prohibit public gatherings of 1,000 people for the next two weeks, we will not play our upcoming March 24th exhibition game against the Oakland A’s at Oracle Park in San Francisco.”
MLB fans in Seattle are facing a similar situation. The Mariners announced they are relocating their March slate of home games after the state of Washington banned large group events. The team was scheduled to open their 2020 season with a home series against the Texas Rangers March 26-29, followed by a visit from the Minnesota Twins March 30 through April 1.
“While we hope to be back to playing baseball in Seattle as soon as possible, the health and safety of our community is the most important consideration,” the team shared in a statement, adding that they are working with the office of the league’s commissioner for alternative plans.
Seattle was among the first U.S. market to see cases of the coronavirus and has taken measures to contain its spread. The epidemic’s impact on the city led famed natives Pearl Jam to postpone their North American tour for the safety of all involved.