The coronavirus pandemic halted sports across the world in March. At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the NBA decided to stop their season. Other leagues quickly followed their lead, deciding it was not safe to carry out games, even without fans present. Three months later, with lockdowns and restrictions starting to lift across many states in America, we are seeing sports slowly begin to return. Multiple leagues are in the process of or have already created altered plans to come back.
New guidelines for many leagues include frequent COVID-19 screenings, constant sanitizing, less people at practices and playing games at central locations to reduce travel. For some leagues, events will be held behind closed doors, with no fans present.
However, a select few will be welcoming fans back relatively soon. Here is a look at leagues and events in the United States is planning to open the doors to fans sooner rather than later:
Professional Bull Riders, July 10-12 (South Dakota)
Professional Bull Riders (PBR) is having a five-week event called The PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge in July. The initial events in Las Vegas will take place without fans, but when it moves to South Dakota from July 10-12, they will fill the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota at a 35% capacity.
Here are the precautions that will be in place:
- The limited seating will encourage social distancing
- A four-to-six-foot buffer will be placed between seats to ensure fans don't gather together in the stands
- Face coverings will be handed out to fans
- Mobile ticketing will be in place
- There will be an increase in contactless concessions and prepackaged food
- Early entry will be provided to older fans
- Specific doors will be assigned as entrances and exits with staff members holding them open to limit contact on the surface
- When fans exit, they will leave by zones to prevent large crowds gathering at the exists
- Restrooms will allow a limited amount of people in at a time
- Participants in the event will be tested for COVID-19 before entering each new facility.
The state has 5,523 cases of COVID-19 and at 68 deaths, according to CDC data.
The competitions each Friday and Saturday will be televised on CBS Sports Network with a "Game of the Week" broadcast on CBS each Sunday.
World TeamTennis, July 12-August 1 (West Virginia)
World TeamTennis (WTT) quickly realized their normal season could not be carried out as originally scheduled, so Carlos Silva, WTT's chief executive reached out to multiple states to see which location made the most sense The league settled on the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The resort was chosen because it is large enough for all to social distance and will allow fans to be in attendance.
Besides social distancing, here are other precautions in place:
- The outdoor stadium will not pack the usual 2,500 and instead will have 500 fans present
- Anyone entering the resort will need to go through a temperature check
The plan to test players has not yet been finalized, but they are considering testing all athletes for COVID-19 before entering the resort and then performing temperature screens each day.
West Virginia has 2,179 coronavirus cases and 84 deaths, according to CDC data.
All World TeamTennis matches will be shown on CBS Network.
National Hot Rod Association, July 11-12, July 18-19 (Indiana)
The National Hot Rod Association's Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Events 1 and 2 are taking place at the Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis with fans present.
Limited tickets will be sold for the events, with admission extended to NHRA members and 2020 U.S. Nationals ticket holders.
NHRA president Glen Cromwell explained why they will allowing fans in, telling the Washington Post, "we are an outdoor sport, we feel comfortable opening these Indianapolis events to a limited number of fans who are the lifeblood of our sport and following the guidance of the state of Indiana to resume racing."
Indiana has 38,033 COVID-19 cases and 2,339 deaths, according to CDC data.
The NHRA was forced to alter their schedule due to the coronavirus, and events in Chicago, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, California, Nevada and North Carolina were canceled earlier in the year.
PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament, July 16-19 (Ohio)
The Memorial Tournament from July 16 to 19 at Muirfield Village in Columbus, Ohio will welcome in a maximum of 8,000 fans, which is 20% of the location's usual capacity.
Some limitations and precautions in place will include:
- Fans will be subject to temperature screenings
- Face coverings must be worn at all times, with a few exceptions
- Entrances, including the media entrance, will be very limited
The first four events that the PGA is hosting since the shutdown in March -- Charles Schwab Challenge, RBC Heritage, Travelers Championship and Rocket Mortgage Classic -- all will not allow fans.
Ohio has 39,162 cases and 2,421 deaths, according to CDC data.
CBS Sports will air coverage of the tournament.