By Jack Ryan
It’s June 1, and there is light at the pandemic tunnel that has closed down sports since mid-March.
Here’s the state of play:
NBA: Target is for training camps to begin in July, with the season resuming in late July/early August
NHL: Target is for training camps to begin in July, with the playoffs resuming in late July/early August
UFC: Returned on May 9
Bundesliga: Returned on May 16
NASCAR: Returned on May 17
PGA Tour: June 11
La Liga: June 12
Turkish Super Lig: June 12
English Premier League: June 17
Serie A: June 20
Belmont Stakes: June 20
Champions League: August 7
The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. With teams having played 63 to 67 games in their 82-game season, there is currently no date set for a resumption of play.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, “the NBA is working on multi-phase medical/safety protocols toward restart of play. Current projections have in-market training camps in July, then camps/scrimmages in Orlando, then resume play late July/early August.”
The Orlando setting would be in Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The 220-acre complex has three arenas where the league could hold games and there are multiple hotels in the area, which would make it easier for players and their families to limit outside exposure while the season ends.
Seventy-five days after the NHL announced a pause on the 2019-20 season, league commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league’s return-to-play plan on May 26 that ended the regular season.
Bettman stated that, in a best-case scenario, training camps will begin “not earlier than the first half of July.” Since players have asked for a three-week training camp, the earliest the puck will drop is in late July or early August.
The top 12 teams in both the Eastern and Western conferences will compete in qualifying playoff rounds to determine the 16 teams that will compete for the Stanley Cup.
The top four clubs in each conference will play a round robin to decide first-round seeding, while the remaining eight squads in each conference will participate in best-of-five play-in series to advance to the first round of the playoffs.
Each conference will be assigned a “hub city” that is designed to operate as a bubble for players and team personnel. Secure hotels, arena, practice facilities and in-market transportation will be provided.
To find out more about how the NHL’s unprecedented move is going to impact sports bettors, check out our How the 2020 NHL Playoffs Format Impacts Betting Odds article.
Major League Baseball cancelled the start of its season after only a handful of spring training games were played in both Arizona and Florida. There is no date set for MLB to come back, but the South Korean league recently became the first significant baseball league to resume play.
Unlike the NBA and NHL, MLB has a full slate of regular-season contests yet to be played, and finishing 162 games along with the playoffs is going to take a lot of work with the conditions surrounding COVID-19.
MLB and the players are currently in talks about a return-to-play plan for a potential 2020 campaign. The two sides met earlier this week, but the MLB Players Association was not pleased with the proposed economic plan as part of an agreement for a condensed season of 82 games.
The proposed season would begin in July and have an extended playoff format and feature a long list of safety protocols for both players and team personnel. The two sides do not appear to be close to a deal, however, so don’t be surprised if MLB’s announcement comes after the NBA’s.
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