With Washington state banning gatherings of more than 250 people in the Seattle area amidst the coronavirus crisis, Seattle Sounders FC will postpone its March 21 home match–and other sports teams are also complying with the ban.
With the coronavirus, or COVID-19, taking a particular toll in Washington, governor Jay Inslee on Wednesday announced a ban in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties on gatherings larger than 250 people through at least the end of March. Sporting events are included in the ban and, as expected, it will affect the Sounders.
Shortly after Inslee’s announcement, the MLS club announced that it was postponing its March 21 home match against FC Dallas, with a makeup date to be revealed in the future.
“As the developments surrounding COVID-19 in our region evolve, Seattle Sounders FC has been working in real time with regional health authorities and government officials to do our part in combating this public health crisis,” read a statement issued by the team Wednesday. “Our organization must remain flexible in these efforts, and at this time, that includes heeding Governor Inslee’s call to postpone our home match on March 21 versus FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field.
“Throughout this process, Sounders FC has stated that nothing is more important than public safety and the wellbeing of our fans. With that in mind, we respect the difficult decision that has been made today, and our club will continue following the guidelines set forth by our public health authorities and government agencies. We will maintain our consistent dialogue with elected leadership, public health officials and Major League Soccer, and as more information becomes available, the club will continue to provide public updates. This includes details about rescheduling the FC Dallas match for a later date.”
While the Sounders are postponing their March 21 match, Division II USL Championship’s Tacoma Defiance has announced it will not open tonight’s game against San Diego Loyal at Cheney Stadium to the public. Tacoma is located in Pierce County.
“After learning of Governor Inslee’s announcement, the decision has been made to play Wednesday evening’s USL Championship match behind closed doors at Cheney Stadium,” said a club-issued statement. “With San Diego Loyal’s squad already in town to play the contest, we have been in touch with the United Soccer League, regional government agencies and health authorities about the best path forward. Because Cheney Stadium will be closed to the public, it has been deemed safe to proceed with Tacoma Defiance’s second match of the season.”
On Monday, MLS joined the NBA, NHL, and MLB in announcing that it would limit player facility and locker room access to essential personnel only amidst fears over the spread coronavirus. The three leagues have had to make adjustments since, with MLB’s Seattle Mariners expected to move late-March home games because of the policy now in effect in the Seattle area. Meanwhile, the NBA’s Golden State Warriors will play tomorrow’s home game before an empty Chase Center after San Francisco issued a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people. A similar policy in Santa Clara County will affect the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, who are looking whether to play upcoming games at SAP Center before an empty house or move the games to a neutral site.
Image courtesy Seattle Sounders.