Santa Clara County sports teams will be the first in the country to navigate a second coronavirus shutdown, starting Monday, when a new county health order takes effect.
Team practices and games from high school to pros are banned in the county for three weeks, and officials say there is no exception – not that the 49s or any other team that has received a county permit will resume practice in the summer or fall. .
“This means that these teams will not be able to play games or practice where they are in direct contact with each other,” County Councilor James Williams said at a news conference on Saturday.
The order forces teams to act quickly in the middle of their seasons – such as the county college football and basketball teams and the 49s. They may have to postpone or cancel the games, or find an alternative venue to practice and play outside the county, as some have researched or done before their season.
For those approaching an upcoming season like the Sharks, they also need to arrange alternative plans.
Here are the teams on Saturday night, just over 24 hours after the order takes effect:
Shortly after the 49s returned to the Bay Area from Sunday’s roadside game against the Los Angeles Rams, they couldn’t be allowed to gather at the Santa Clara headquarters or play at Levi’s Stadium.
Under the ordinance, both football practice and games are prohibited in the county for three weeks starting Monday. The Niners are scheduled to play the first of their three remaining home games next week in Monday night’s football against the Buffalo Bills. Domestic dates were also set for December 13 (against Washington) and January 3 (against Seattle). While the game against the Seahawks in Week 17 falls outside the three-week ban period, it is possible that county officials may extend the ban.
In their brief statement on Saturday, the 49 said they were aware of the order and would work with the NFL to find a solution.
One acceptable result is that the Niners moved across the bay to the Oakland Colosseum, which the Raiders left for Las Vegas after the previous season. Whether Alameda County health officials could be employed in such an agreement is not yet clear, as cases are ticking there as well.
At the college level, there are a total of eight teams in the middle of a season: the men’s and women’s basketball teams from Stanford, San Jose State and Santa Clara, and the Stanford and San Jose State football teams.
Both the cardinal and the Spartan football team left the county to train before his season; Stanford practiced for several days at Woodside High School, across the county line in San Mateo County, while SJSU exited and walked six hours north to the Humboldt State Arcata campus for a week and a half before receiving permission from Santa Clara County health officials to practice and play at home. At the time, Stanford coach David Shaw said his team had at least three contingency plans in case the cardinal had to move during the season.
The state of San Jose has just canceled its second straight game due to the testing and tracking situation of the opponent’s corona virus. Saturday’s much-anticipated conference game with Boise State was called non-competitive a few hours before the start.
All six basketball teams have just started their season, albeit without the hiccups created by corona viruses. The Stanford men, the Santa Clara women and the San Jose State men all canceled the opener – the Broncos women’s team received a positive test and began a two-week quarantine on Tuesday.
The next match, scheduled inside the county, will be held just 2 p.m., after the ban takes effect: Stanford runners-up will be hosting San Diego on Monday afternoon. Cardinal’s female coach, Tara VanDerveer, achieved just four victories in Pat Summitt’s NCAA Division, Class I, with 1,098 wins.
About a dozen Sharks players will be skating in small groups at Solar4America Ice, its training ground, with a view to training camp expected to begin in December. The NHL has said it aims to open the season in January, although it has yet to announce definite dates.
Sharks may need to move their training camp to Solar4America Ice in Fremont or the Oakland Ice Center, two facilities in Alameda County. However, it is not clear whether Sharks would face the same issues there if they skated in large groups as in Santa Clara County.
Another possible location for the training camp could be Las Vegas, where there are plenty of tracks for practice, as well as hotel space for players and staff. This summer, Las Vegas became NHL playoffs, before a surge in local coronavirus cases prompted the tournament to choose Toronto and Edmonton as its two bubble spots in the offseason.
The Sharks have not played since the NHL shutdown in March, as they were not among the 24 teams invited to restart the season.
The middle shore initially circled the target date for the start of football practice on December 14 after the season was delayed in July, but it became clear to many in preparatory football that such a resumption was unrealistic as cases ticked before Saturday’s county decision.
State officials announced earlier this month that they planned to issue updated guidelines that would allow for some preparatory and youth sports, but they waited for that as cases continued to rise.
Middle Coast Commissioner Dave Grissom, whose section covers the county, said preparation sports are not affected by Saturday’s ban because the state has a holding pattern.
“I don’t think that will change much for us,” Grissom said Saturday. “Until the guidelines changed, we wouldn’t have known anything to do with contact or any sport anyway.”
Cam Inman, Curtis Pashelka, Darren Sabedra and Fiona Kelliher also contributed to this story.