Coronavirus & Sports Update: A Comprehensive Look at the Returning Live Sports Calendar

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, nearly all pro and college sports leagues have postponed or canceled seasons and events. However, many are now restarting events without spectators. SVG is posting a regularly updated list of announcements from pro leagues regarding postponed, canceled, and rescheduled events. Below are further announcements this week. Click Here for previous Sports & Coronavirus Update installments and stay tuned to for more information on how the pandemic is impacting the sports-production industry.

May 8: Tennis Channel Serves Up UTR Pro Match Series This Weekend
Universal Tennis’ UTR Pro Match Series Presented by Tennis Channel begins this weekend featuring top ATP and WTA players in tournament play. The UTR Pro Match Series presented by Tennis Channel will be broadcast live on Tennis Channel and will be the first top tier professional tennis events televised internationally since the global health crisis put a halt to tennis in March. The first event of the series will be held May 8-10 with a four-player men’s round-robin event beginning at 12:00 noon ET each day with 3 hours of live coverage. All matches will be held at a private court in the West Palm Beach, FL, area with no spectators or public access. These are the first two events in what will be a continuing US and international series. UTR is partnering with others around the world to deliver UTR Pro Match Series events for players according to local guidelines as restrictions are lifted.

May 9: UFC Enters the Octagon with UFC 249 in Jacksonville
UFC returns tomorrow night with UFC 249 featuring No. 1 ranked lightweight contender Tony Ferguson and No. 4 ranked Justin Gaethje battle for the interim championship. In the co-main event, Henry Cejudo takes on Dominick Cruz. This will be the first of three events taking place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida on May 9, 13 and 16 respectively, future cards will be announced at a later date. These events will be closed to the public and will be produced with only essential personnel in attendance. All prelim bouts will be simulcast on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ in English and Spanish beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET with the UFC Fight Pass prelims. The prelims will continue exclusively on ESPN & ESPN+ 8 p.m. ET and the ESPN+ Pay-Per-View main card will kick off at 10 p.m. ET.

May 16: Bundesliga Returns to the Pitch
Bundesliga will restart the 2019-2020 season on May 16. The DFL is thus guided by the wording of the decision of the federal and state governments that “from the second half of May” a return of the Bundesliga and the 2nd Bundesliga is acceptable. The season continues with the 26th matchday, the other matchdays follow in the order originally planned. It is planned that the last match day of the Bundesliga will be played on June 27, 2020. Since an adjustment of the general schedule is necessary for the scheduling of the match days up to the end of the season, there are currently final coordination talks with the German Football Federation (DFB).

May 17: NASCAR To Return at Darlington Raceway
NASCAR will return to racing on May 17, which will kick off a slate of races that includes seven events in three series at two race tracks – Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will each host its first on-track event since mid-March. The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Darlington Raceway on Sunday, May 17, with a 400-mile event scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET, live on Fox, FoxDeportes, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. What follows is a unique schedule that includes midweek races in primetime and a NASCAR crown jewel – the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway – in its traditional Memorial Day Weekend home for the 60th consecutive season. Each of NASCAR’s return events will be run without fans in attendance. Further schedule adjustments will be announced in the future.

May 17: NBC Sports Brings Back Televised Golf With TaylorMade Driving Relief 
The PGA TOUR, NBC Sports, and Sky Sports will return to televised golf with TaylorMade Driving Relief, centered around a $3 million charity skins match supported by UnitedHealth Group to raise money and awareness for the American Nurses Foundation and CDC Foundation, two organizations helping to lead COVID-19 relief efforts. On Sunday, May 17, from Seminole Golf Club, TaylorMade Driving Relief will feature two-time FedExCup champion and World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and 20-time PGA TOUR winner Dustin Johnson, teaming up against two Oklahoma State University alumni: PGA TOUR superstar Rickie Fowler and 2019 first-time TOUR winner and 2019 NCAA National Champion Matthew Wolff. The competition will follow strict CDC social distancing guidelines, local mandates, and will utilize appropriate testing measures to help protect the health and safety of the golfers, production crew and others on site.

May 24: Tiger and Phil Join Brady and Peyton for The Match: Champions for Charity
The following weekend, Turner Sports will present Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Charity, headlined by golf icons Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson returning for a rematch, this time joined by Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. The premier sports event – simulcast exclusively on TNT, TBS, truTV and HLN – will be held Sunday, May 24, at 3 p.m. ET, with pre-match coverage available in the Bleacher Report app. Associated with the live telecast, WarnerMedia and the golfers will collectively make a charitable donation of $10 million to benefit COVID-19 relief. As part of the fundraising efforts, the competition will also include a partnership with the ALL IN Challenge, along with additional on-course competitive challenges for charity. Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Charity, a sanctioned PGA TOUR event, will be held at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla. In preparation for the event, tournament organizers are working with state and local government and public health officials on competition and production logistics to ensure the event follows safety and health protocols.

June 6: INDYCAR Returns in Fort Worth
The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will begin Saturday, June 6 with the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. INDYCAR’s stars will take the green flag at 8:45 p.m. (ET), with broadcast coverage provided by NBC Sports via NBCSN. INDYCAR will run a condensed schedule with practice, qualifying and the race taking place on the same day. The event also will be conducted without fans in attendance. This will be the 24th consecutive year in which INDYCAR has raced at the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth, Texas.

June 8: PGA Tour Tees Off With Charles Schwab Challenge
The PGA Tour will be back in action on June 8, with the Charles Schwab Challenge and with additional tournaments repositioned between then and the season’s conclusion, which is the TOUR Championship, on Labor Day (Sept. 7). At this time, the TOUR plans to resume play with the first four events closed to the general public but will continue to monitor the situation and follow the recommendations of local and state authorities in determining the most appropriate onsite access in each market. The organization will continually review available COVID-19–related protocols that could be implemented at PGA TOUR events to ensure the health and well-being for all involved. All three events previously scheduled between May 18 and June 8 — the Charles Schwab Challenge, Rocket Mortgage Classic, and the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide — have been moved to later dates in the calendar. With 22 events through the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard having been played, the adjusted season schedule — still subject to change — now comprises 36 events, including three FedExCup Playoffs and concluding with the TOUR Championship over Labor Day weekend, when the 2020 FedExCup Champion will be crowned.

July 25: PLL Championship Series Marks Return of Pro Lacrosse
The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) is returning with the launch of the PLL Championship Series Powered by Ticketmaster, a two-week quarantined and fanless tournament scheduled to run from July 25th – August 9th. PLL Championship Series will take shape in two parts. Throughout the first week, the league’s seven teams will compete in a fourteen-game group play format to determine seeding for the following week’s single-elimination tournament. The winner of the tournament will be crowned the 2020 PLL Champion. All twenty league games will be presented live across NBC, NBCSN, or NBC Sports Gold, with all televised games also streaming live on and the NBC Sports app.

More Industry Updates: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, USL, and CFL
The NFL announced that it still plans to begin the season in September with NFL Kickoff taking place on Thursday, Sept. 10, from Arrowhead Stadium featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. CLICK HERE for a deeper look at the 2020 NFL regular season schedule.

Major League Baseball expects to offer a return-to-play proposal to the MLB Players Association within a week, as teams have begun to encourage players to prepare for a “spring” training that could begin in mid-June and a season that could start in early July, according to ESPN.

Several NBA teams are reopening their practice facilities for voluntary, individual, socially distanced workouts, but it remains unclear if the NBA is any closer to resuming its season than it was when it first shut down.

The NHL’s reopening plan has shifted from completing the 2019-20 regular season to instead staging a 24-team tournament that would include a best-of-three play-in round, according to the New York Post. NHL players remain under a stay-at-home advisory that is expected to be updated within the week. No official timeline for opening club training facilities to individual or small group workouts has been established by the league.

Both MLS and the USL have released statements saying clubs can allow players to return for individual and small-group training. Games in MLS are currently suspended until June 8 with the current training moratorium set to expire on May 15. The United Soccer League (USL) announced that teams in the Championship and League One will be allowed to put on “non-contract training in small groups as well as training rooms for player treatment” from May 11. USL had previously canceled its League Two season.

Canadian Football League Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said the most likely scenario is to cancel the season because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the New York Post. The commissioner said the league’s future is “very much in jeopardy” and that teams collectively lost about $20 million last year. The CFL has already canceled the start of training camps — which were scheduled to open this month — and pushed back the opening of the regular season to early July, at the earliest.

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