Major sporting events in the United States are beginning to be affected by coronavirus.
Santa Clara County in California announced Monday a ban on gatherings of at least 1,000 people for the rest of the month, directly impacting the San Jose Sharks, San Jose Earthquakes and the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. The ban comes after a Santa Clara County woman in her 60s died from the virus, the county’s first death related to the virus.
The Sharks begin a four-game road trip Wednesday and don’t have a scheduled home game until Thursday, March 19. They have three scheduled home games at SAP Center the rest of the month and finish the season with two home games on April 2 and 4. The team said it will comply with the county’s policy. The arena’s next scheduled event is a minor-league hockey game next Tuesday.
“SAP Center at San Jose is aware of the County of Santa Clara’s Public Health Department order to prohibit public and private mass gatherings through the end of March. We will adhere to the mandated guidelines,” the Sharks said in a statement. “No events are scheduled at SAP Center until Tues., March 17. We will be reviewing each scheduled event due to take place for the rest of the month and provide an update in the coming days. We appreciate the understand and patience of our fans, guests and partners during this unprecedented time.”
Last Thursday, fans at a Sharks home game didn’t seem bothered by the coronavirus despite public health officials recommending earlier in the day that large gatherings be cancelled.
“I have chronic lung disease so I’m concerned about it, but I’m not going to let it control me,” Gerald Pleasant, a Santa Cruz County man in his 70s, told USA Today that day.
The alternatives are playing the games at SAP Center without fans, relocating to a neutral site or possibly playing the games on the road.
Regarding potentially playing games without fans, Sharks goalie Aaron Dell said over the weekend, “I don’t think it would make a huge difference, but it would be kind of weird because it would be really, really quiet.”
The Earthquakes of Major League Soccer have a scheduled home game at Earthquakes Stadium on March 21. The team said in a statement it “fully support[s]” the county’s declaration and “will comply immediately.” It will provide updates on events at its stadium.
Stanford is a host on the first weekend of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
The NHL, MLS, MLB and NBA announced jointly Monday it would keep media out of locker rooms for the time being in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Major League Baseball as of now is planning to play the rest of spring training and open its season on March 26, but some executives are concerned the virus could force the league to change plans.
— With AP