Big Ten postpones fall sports, including football, due to Covid-19 pandemic

The seemingly inevitable became fact Tuesday, when the Big Ten conference announced it was postponing all fall sports, including football, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren in the statement posted on the conference website. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

The next question is whether or not other college conferences and schools will follow suit; rumors had surfaced Monday that the Pac-12 was set to make a similar announcement.

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.

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.

No fans at MetLife Stadium for Jets or Giants ‘until further notice’

Add the New York Jets and the New York Giants to the list of NFL teams that won’t have fans in the stands if games take place this season.

In a joint announcement the teams said that due to restrictions set by N.J. Governor Phil Murphy to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, a limit of 500 people at outdoor gatherings would apply to any games being held at MetLife Stadium. To comply with those restrictions the Jets and Giants said “we support Governor Murphy’s decision in the interest of public health and safety and, until circumstances change, we will play our games without the benefit of fans in attendance.” The teams also said that fans would not be allowed at 2020 training camp or practice sessions.

Rutgers University also said it would comply with the governor’s restrictions, which would limit fans to 500 people at any games that take place. As part of the Big Ten, Rutgers is already looking at a potential season with only conference games. The first game currently on Rutgers’ schedule is a Sept. 26 game at Ohio State.

Philly city officials say no fans at Eagles games this season; Update: Wait, maybe!

Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles. Credit: Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia city officials on Tuesday said fans would not be allowed to attend professional sports events, meaning that there will be no fans in the stands at Lincoln Financial Field if and when NFL games take place this season. But on Wednesday, the city backtracked a bit, with a “maybe” statement from the mayor’s office.

According to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia health commissioner Thomas Farley said on Tuesday that while safety protocols being developed for professional events look like they will protect participants from the coronavirus, the city thinks it would be unsafe for fans to attend.

“I do think that games can be played with the kind of safety precautions that they’re proposing. I do not think that they can have spectators at those games. There’s no way for them to be safe having a crowd there,” Farley said, according to the Inquirer report.

But on Wednesday, the city seemed to backtrack a bit, with a mayor’s spokesperson saying fans might be allowed at Eagles games should the city change its rules before the season starts.

The earlier announcement would unofficially make the Eagles the first NFL team to explicitly rule out having fans in the stands this season. Several other NFL teams, including the New England Patriots, have announced plans for significantly diminished attendance numbers if and when fans are allowed to be at games this season. The Patriots, who announced Tuesday plans to cap any games at Gillette Stadium at 20 percent of capacity, joined earlier similar announcements from the Miami Dolphins, the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs.

As Stadium Tech Report predicted in our recent in-depth study of what might lie ahead for venues coping with trying to hold events during a pandemic, it’s not a big surprise that any events taking place for the rest of 2020 will likely be with either significantly diminished audiences or no fans at all. While some best-practices ideas around the use of technology, social distancing and other procedures like timed entries are emerging as ideas that may help to keep fans safe, the continued spread of the disease in the United States, along with no coherent federal plan to combat it, makes the idea of full-house events somewhat unthinkable right now.