With the coronavirus crisis leading to a ban on gatherings of more than 250 people in the Seattle area, the XFL’s Seattle Dragons will play Sunday’s home game before an empty CenturyLink Field.
Among the most highly contagious parts of the United States include Washington state, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Today, Washington governor Jay Inslee announced a ban in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties on gatherings larger than 250 people through at least the end of March—a mandate that applies to Sunday’s game between the Dragons and LA Wildcats. Following Inslee’s announcement, the XFL revealed that the game will be played as scheduled at 4:00 P.M. PST, but that fans will not be allowed inside CenturyLink Field. The game will still be broadcast live on ESPN2.
The announcement did not address the status of the Dragons’ next scheduled home game, a March 22 contest against the New York Guardians.
In the hours since Inslee’s announcement, there have been differing responses from professional sports teams within the areas included in the ban. MLS’s Seattle Sounders FC–who also play at CenturyLink Field–have postponed a March 21 home match, while Division II professional soccer’s Tacoma Defiance will play before an empty Cheney Stadium tonight. MLB’s Mariners are expected to move early-season games because of the policy, including their March 26 home opener against the Texas Rangers that was to be played at T-Mobile Park.
Ongoing concerns about the spread of coronavirus have had implications elsewhere in the United States, with similar policies being implemented by other jurisdictions. The NBA’s Golden State Warriors will play tomorrow’s home game before an empty Chase Center after the City and County of San Francisco issued a two-week ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people. A similar policy in Santa Clara County will affect the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, who are looking at whether to play upcoming games at SAP Center before an empty house or move the games to a neutral site.
The coronavirus is now qualified as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Image courtesy Seattle Dragons.