Mountain West, Mid-American conferences postpone fall sports; are Big Ten and Pac-12 next?

The Mountain West conference on Monday postponed all fall sports, including football, joining the Mid-American conference as the first FBS conferences to rule out games this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic. And even as foobtall insiders and some politicians called for college football to be played even in the face of rising numbers of Americans testing positive for the disease, rumors surfaced that two of the biggest conferences, the Big Ten and the Pac-12, were ready to announce their own fall sports postponements soon.

Though other sports, including the NBA and the NHL, have staged successful re-openings in the midst of the pandemic, their expensive “bubble” implementations — where teams are basically sequestered in a locale without need to travel — is simply not possible for college sports, especially college football with its large rosters and the need for teams to travel to play a conference schedule while students also attend school. Major League Baseball, which is in the middle of a shortened 2020 season without a bubble, is in danger of having its season scrapped due to continued outbreaks of the virus among teams.

Boingo to bring Wi-Fi 6, DAS to Austin FC’s new stadium

Artist rendering of the under-construction stadium for Austin FC, which begins MLS play next season. Credit all photos: Austin FC

Austin FC has selected Boingo to deliver a neutral-host distributed antenna system and a Wi-Fi 6 network for the club’s new stadium, which is slated to open next year during Austin FC’s inaugural season in Major League Soccer.

While all scheduled things for sports and stadiums are currently “pending” due to the coronavirus pandemic, for right now the new venue located in the north-central part of the booming west Texas metropolis is still slated to open next year, according to Andy Loughnane, Austin FC President. And in a phone interview this week Loughnane said that when the stadium does open up, it should have the kind of connectivity that Austin’s tech-savvy populace will expect — namely, strong Wi-Fi and cellular.

According to Loughnane, Boingo emerged as the winner of a “competitive process” to choose the technology supplier for the venue. While some of the details of the networks have not yet been announced — including hardware vendors for both the DAS and the Wi-Fi networks — Loughnane and Boingo are confident that the stadium will have more than enough bandwidth to keep a full house of 20,500 soccer fans (or 22,000 concertgoers) well connected no matter where they are.

No matter which Wi-Fi vendor is selected, Loughnane said that using Wi-Fi 6 APs will be a performance key for what he hopes will be fully packed stands (if and when fans are allowed to attend large events again). Boingo senior vice president and general manager Doug Lodder said that the Wi-Fi network will use a combination of under-seat and overhead AP deployment, with “hundreds” of APs throughout the venue.


A construction cam shot shows the current state of the Austin FC stadium.

Raiders: No fans at Allegiant Stadium this season

Inside the new Allegiant Stadium, new home of the Las Vegas Raiders. Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

According to reports the brand-new stadium is ready to go, but according to the Las Vegas Raiders fans won’t be allowed in Allegiant Stadium if games are played this season, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Monday that in an email sent to Raiders season ticket holders, owner Mark Davis said there would be no fans allowed at games this season. More as we hear more.

SEC joins Pac-12, Big Ten with conference-only football schedule

There’s still no guarantee that any games will be played at all due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but in case college football does return the SEC announced Thursday that it would play a conference-only schedule starting Sept. 26.

A release from the Southeastern Conference said “The 2020 SEC football season will be comprised of a 10-game Conference-only schedule and the SEC Football Championship Game will be played December 19 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, rescheduled from the original date of December 5. The schedule will include one mid-season open date for each school and an open date on December 12 for all schools.”

The SEC joins other Power-5 conferences that have announced similar plans. Both the Big Ten and the Pac-12 are also proposing conference-only schedules, while the ACC announced this week it would play an 11-game schedule with Notre Dame joining in.

“After careful consideration of the public health indicators in our region and following advice of our medical advisors, we have determined that this is the best course of action to prepare for a safe and healthy return to competition for SEC student-athletes, coaches and others associated with our sports programs,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey in a prepared statement.

MLB cancels games after Marlins suffer Covid-19 outbreak

Could the Major League Baseball season be over before it even really got started? After a dozen players and staff on the Miami Marlins tested positive for Covid-19, MLB canceled two games on Monday and all around the nation sports observers were calling for the league to end its season before things got worse.

Unlike the NBA and the NHL — major pro sports that are trying to finish their seasons in enclosed “bubble” environments — Major League Baseball started up this past week with teams playing in their own stadiums, without fans but with no bubble restrictions.

The Marlins, who played an opening series at Philadelphia, had their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles postponed Monday by MLB. Also postponed was the opener of a planned series between the New York Yankees and the Phillies, set to begin Monday.

Indy 500 unveils plans for 25 percent fan capacity at Aug. 23 race

The delayed Indianapolis 500 has a plan to be able to host fans up to 25 percent of the venue’s capacity for the Aug. 23 race, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Penske Entertainment Corp., which owns the track.

According to a report in the Indianapolis Star that percentage translates to a crowd of approximately 87,500 people. According to the speedway, fans will be required to wear masks at all times, and fans will be scanned for temperatures on the way in. More details about the attendance plan are expected to be released Wednesday.

“We will welcome fans back, and we have an aggressive plan in place, which has been developed through collaboration with national, state and local health experts,” said Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles, in the prepared statement.

Also from the statement:

Indy officials have made clear this year’s race will include numerous safety precautions, including the reassignment of seats to provide for greater distancing; the issuance and required use of masks, distribution of hand sanitizer to all who enter; temperature checks in order to enter; and changes throughout the facility to minimize lines and gathering spots, including limiting options from concession stands to mostly pre-packaged foods. Numerous other changes will also be in place.