Seattle’s pro sports teams forced to adjust plans after governor’s strict coronavirus ruling

T-Mobile Park (Credit: Getty Images)

Seattle’s professional sports teams have all been forced to make alternative arrangements for their upcoming home games after Washington governor Jay Inslee banned social gatherings of 250 or more people in the Seattle metropolitan area until the end of March because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seattle is one of the worst-affected areas in the United States for the public health crisis.

It means Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners are seeking alternative options for their season-opening series against the Texas Rangers (March 26-29) and Minnesota Twins (March 30-April 1) at T-Mobile Park. It is believed the games could be played at the venues of the opposition teams or in front of an empty T-Mobile Park, though plans have not yet been finalized.

MLB, which faces a heightened rescheduling burden given the everyday nature of baseball, has had some prior experience shifting games, particularly due to natural events such as hurricanes and major snowstorms. The global pandemic of coronavirus, however, presents a far greater challenge.

“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. We will provide more information about our plans for the games as it becomes available,” the Mariners said in a statement.

“I had a discussion with (Mariners owner) John Stanton the other day. Missing a home opener is a big, big deal to the state of Washington,” Inslee added. “But I think he and others understand the importance of health and I think we’re going to have acceptance of this.”

Elsewhere, Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders announced their March 21 match against FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field has been postponed until an unspecified date.

Meanwhile, the XFL’s Seattle Dragons will play their game against the Los Angeles Wildcats on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, but without fans. The Dragons had drawn over 20,000 fans in both their games at the venue this season.

In the United Soccer League Championship, Tacoma Defiance’s home game against San Diego Loyal was scheduled to be played behind closed doors on Wednesday evening at Cheney Stadium, which is located about 45 minutes south of Seattle.

Tacoma’s home match on March 22 against OKC Energy FC is set to be rescheduled for a later date.

Elsewhere in the USL, the Connecticut-based Hartford Athletic has postponed two matches following guidance from local and state health officials: against Charleston Battery on March 21 and against Memphis 901 FC on April 4.

In MLS, it was announced that San Jose Earthquakes’ home game against Sporting Kansas City at Earthquakes Stadium, scheduled for March 21, has been postponed to a future date to be determined later.

In the National Hockey League, the San Jose Sharks announced that all three home games this month (March 19 v Montreal, March 21 v Boston and March 29 v Arizona) will be played as scheduled at SAP Center but closed to the general public.

Admission to games will be limited to home and visiting club personnel, approved credentialed media and broadcast partners, essential club and arena staff, and NHL officials.

The announcements were prompted by the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department’s mandate barring gatherings of 1,000 or more people through the end of March.