05/26 15:58 CDT The Latest: Bettman: 24-team format will have 2 hub cities
The Latest: Bettman: 24-team format will have 2 hub cities
By The Associated Press
The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says the league will split its 24-team playoff
format in two hub cities, which have yet to be determined should the league
Bettman says each hub will play host to the top 12 teams in each conference
with one based in an Eastern Conference city, and another in the West.
The league has narrowed its focus of hub cities to 10, and will make a final
decision based on approval from local health officials.
The league expects players can begin returning to their home rinks early next
Training camps won't open until July 1 at the earliest.
Bettman said the league is open to playing into early fall.
Bettman says games during the play-in format to determine the top 16 teams will
be played under regular-season rules. The conference finals and Stanley Cup
Final will feature seven-game series.
Bettman says the league has yet to determine whether the first two playoff
rounds will be five- or seven-game series.
NHL Commmissioner Gary Bettman has announced the league is moving ahead with a
24-team expanded playoff format if it's able to resume play and award the
The plan was approved by the NHL's board of governors, and comes days after the
NHL Players' Association's executive committee gave the plan a green light.
Bettman stresses the plan's approval doesn't guarantee the resumption of games.
The league and players must still determine safety protocols and solve other
issues, including where to play.
Under the expanded format, the top four teams in each conference will play for
seeding while the other 16 face off in a best-of-five series. The league has
been shut down since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In going ahead with the top 12 teams in each conference, the decision
officially ends the seasons of the league's bottom seven teams. They are
Anaheim, Buffalo, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Ottawa and San Jose.
The Miami Dolphins are turning their field into a drive-in theatre.
The team announced plans for a theater inside the stadium that will accommodate
up to 230 cars. In addition, a new open-air theater on the stadium plaza will
host small groups. Classic movies and commencements will be among the events
shown, and social distancing will be observed.
"We've spent several weeks planning this to be able to provide people with a
safe option to go out and enjoy movies, classic Dolphins content, concerts, and
celebrate 2020 graduates," Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said in a statement
Appalachian State is cutting three varsity men's sports as part of a plan to
save $5 million.
The school announced Tuesday that it has eliminated the men's soccer, men's
tennis and men's indoor track and field programs. The school says those cuts
are included in a plan to reduce the athletic department's budget for the 2021
fiscal year by 20%.
That plan includes not filling current athletics staff job openings and
exploring "additional personnel actions."
The school says scholarships will be honored for student-athletes who wish to
return to Appalachian State, along with support for those seeking a transfer
from the Sun Belt Conference school.
In a statement, athletics director Doug Gillin said going down from 20 sports
will "bring us in line with most of our peer institutions."
"We take all these measures with heavy hearts, but with the long-term
sustainability of App State Athletics at the forefront," Gillin said.
The cuts will leave Appalachian State with 17 varsity sports, seven on the
men's side and 10 on the women's. The Mountaineers will continue to compete in
men's outdoor track and field as well as men's cross country.
Oklahoma will re-open its facilities for voluntary football workouts on July 1
--- about two weeks later than the Big 12 Conference has allowed.
The school made the announcement on Tuesday.
Big 12 presidents and chancellors met last Friday and decided voluntary
activities could begin June 15 for football, July 1 for other fall sports and
July 15 for all other sports.
Oklahoma football has chosen a careful approach. The athletic department's
medicine staff coordinated with the OU Health Sciences Center, Norman campus
student health officials, independent in-state and out-of-state infectious
disease experts and public health specialists before making the decision.
"Our medical personnel have told us that the safest thing we can do is keep our
players off campus for as long as possible," Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said.
"We chose the latest point that we could bring them back and still have enough
time to prepare."
The school said other student-athletes will return later this summer in a
phased approach. Athletes will be evaluated for clearance by the Oklahoma
medical staff and will be continuously monitored and expected to adhere to
several safety protocols and guidelines.
Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio says he would prefer that his team hold
preseason workouts in Milwaukee rather than its spring training home in Arizona
if Major League Baseball decides to resume its season.
Attanasio said it would be a "real boost for everyone" to "bring the boys back
in town" as he joined Brewers general manager David Stearns and manager Craig
Counsell in a Zoom session with the Greater Milwaukee Committee, a group of
area business leaders.
Attanasio acknowledged the team first would have to go through the "medical
protocols" and assure local and state officials that the preseason workouts can
be done safely at Miller Park.
Also during the session, Stearns discussed the Brewers' COVID-19 testing plans
and said that Counsell would have his own assigned seat in the home dugout as
part of the team's social distancing guidelines.
Counsell and Attanasio both noted that the shortened schedule would make it
more important than ever for teams to keep their players healthy. Counsell
noted how that might impact his managerial approach.
"It's going to be important that we're, I think, prudent with how much with how
much usage all our players can have early in the season," Counsell said.
Ravens second-year receiver Miles Boykin plans to join quarterback Lamar
Jackson and several other teammates in Florida for informal workouts while
waiting for word on the NFL's next move during the coronavirus pandemic.
"I was planning on going down there before all this stuff happened," Boykin
said on a video-conference call Tuesday. "But next week I'll be down there
training with those guys."
To this point, Boykin has been playing catch with backup quarterback Trace
McSorley around Baltimore.
"The fact that I have Trace here to be able to work with me is huge," Boykin
Boykin will join Jackson, second-year receiver Marquise Brown and several
others in Florida.
"We're still finalizing it. There are going to be a lot of guys down there,"
Boykin said. "There's only so much you can do in (virtual) meetings without
being able to go out on the field."
Drafted in the third round of the 2019 draft out of Notre Dame, Boykin had 13
catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie.
--- David Ginsburg
Defending America's Cup champion Emirates Team New Zealand has its first race
boat back after it was shipped to Europe for two preliminary regattas that were
canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Te Aihe (The Dolphin) returned to Auckland early Tuesday morning after being
away for nearly four months. Team New Zealand last sailed Te Aihe on the
Hauraki Gulf on Jan. 15. It left the base on Feb. 2, accompanied by 16
containers full of workshops, chase boats and everything else needed to support
the team at America's Cup World Series regattas in Cagliari, Italy, in late
April and Portsmouth, England, in early June. Those regattas were canceled in
March as the coronavirus spread around the world.
The boat traveled on four ships and visited 15 ports, including loading on and
off in the New Zealand port of Tauranga, transhipped in Singapore each way and
loaded off and on in Gioia Tauro, Italy.
"It is good to see her back sooner than expected," logistics manager Andy
Nottage said. "She has been on quite the adventure, but it is good to have her
home in one piece thanks largely to the ongoing support of Maersk."
Nottage said Te Aihe was shipped in a relative state of readiness, so it won't
take long to get it sailing again."
The final ACWS regatta is set for just before Christmas in Auckland. The Prada
Cup for challengers is set for Jan. 15-Feb. 22, with the winner advancing to
face the Kiws in the 36th America's Cup March 6-21.
The top men's soccer league in Ukraine will resume Saturday in empty stadiums
after a suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ukrainian Premier League says it has received approval from the country's
health ministry to restart. No games have been played since March 15.
The schedule foresees league games finishing July 19 with a European
qualification playoff ending 10 days later.
According to UEFA rankings, Ukraine will be the second strongest league in
Europe playing, behind only Germany.
The leadoff event to the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating has been
canceled by Skate Canada because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The event was scheduled for Aug. 26-29 in Richmond, British Columbia. It is the
second competition of the seven-part series that has been canceled, with the
Slovakia event the following week also not taking place.
"Skate Canada has closely monitored the provincial and federal health
authorities position on the COVID-19 pandemic and is committed to the health
and safety of the athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and spectators," the
organization said Tuesday.
"Due to the provincial quarantine guidelines for all travelers and social
distancing requirements in effect at this time, Skate Canada regretfully made
the decision to cancel the event."
No decisions have been made on the other competitions, nor on the senior Grand
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to announce the league's return to
play format this afternoon.
Bettman is set to make a televised address at 4:30 p.m. EDT about what hockey
will look like if the NHL can resume the season this summer. That means a
24-team straight-to-playoffs format with the league's other seven teams having
their seasons ended.
The Players' Association voted last week to approve the 24-team format proposed
by the Return to Play committee. It involves the top four teams in each
conference playing a mini-tournament for seeding, while the other 16 face off
in best-of-five series to set the field.
There is still no timetable for the resumption of game action or when players
can return to team facilities for voluntary workouts. This announcement does
come on the heels of the league and NHLPA unveiling protocols for those
workouts, including a limit of six players on the ice at a time.
Conferences and television networks have agreed to an extension to next week's
deadline for determining the broadcast schedule for college football's early
The Football Bowl Subdivision conferences issued a joint statement Tuesday
along with ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and their affiliated networks.
The statement said only that the game times would be set "at a later date as we
all continue to prepare for the college football season."
The deadline typically falls on June 1, which is Monday.
Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted Tuesday that as long as the NFL's Giants and Jets and
the NHL's Devils follow health and medical protocols, they could open training
camps or even hold competition.
The NFL's preseason and training camps wouldn't begin until midsummer --- teams
are doing virtual workouts in place of the usual on-field activities because of
the coronavirus pandemic. But the NHL is planning ways to complete the 2019-20
season. Should those plans include the Devils, they now can reopen their
"Professional sports teams in NJ may return to training and even competition
--- if their leagues choose to move in that direction," Murphy wrote on Twitter.
"We have been in constant discussions with teams about necessary protocols to
protect the health and safety of players, coaches, and personnel."
A Jets spokesman said: "We are working closely with Gov. Murphy's office, the
league and our medical staff to establish prudent, health and safety measures
for our staff and players. Based on those guidelines, we will begin to open our
facility using a phased approach at a time that is the most practical for our
The Giants echoed those sentiments and said: "With today's announcement by the
governor, we are finalizing our plans to reopen the Quest Diagnostics Training
Center. We will continue to have as many employees as possible working
remotely. For employees who need to return to work at our facility, we expect
to begin that process next week, and we will do so in a systematic and safe way
that adheres to the state's guidelines and NFL protocols."
Formula One carmaker McLaren says 1,200 jobs will be lost across its entire
group's operations because of the coronavirus outbreak.
It was not immediately clear how the cuts would affect the group's F1
operation. The sport has yet to start its 2020 season amid the pandemic.
The McLaren Group says "the cancellation of motorsport events, the suspension
of manufacturing and retail activities around the world and reduced demand for
technology solutions have all led to a sudden impact" on its revenue-generating
McLaren says the reduced budget-cap level for F1 teams also led to the job
The cuts represent about a quarter of the group's workforce.
McLaren executive chairman Paul Walsh says "we plan to emerge as an efficient,
sustainable business with a clear course for returning to growth."
World TeamTennis says it is planning to allow up to 500 spectators at outdoor
matches during its three-week season from July 12 to Aug. 2 at a resort in West
All tennis events sanctioned by the ATP, WTA and International Tennis
Federation are on hold at least until late July because of the coronavirus
But the WTT is not affiliated with those tours and does not need to abide by
their decisions about when it is OK to compete. No ATP or WTA ranking points
are available for its matches.
The WTT says it is increasing its prize money to $5 million. That is $1.5
million more than for its 2019 season.
The league is bringing all nine of its teams to one site at The Greenbrier in
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, because of the pandemic instead of having
matches around the United States.
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