Stop and Go

As live events make their comeback after shutting down for the novel coronavirus pandemic, here’s a look at how major leagues in some professional sports in the U.S. are faring, as reported by the leagues and media outlets.

In action, either with fans or without.

Have a plan to return but had not resumed play as of June 22.

 Have no set plan or are officially done for the season.


Both the men’s and women’s tennis tours recently announced that they plan to return to play in August.

Horse racing
One sport that avoided a total shutdown, at least in a few states where racing continued without fans,
welcomed back big events when the Belmont Stakes ran at an empty track June 20.

Announced plans in June to return with a fanless tournament July 31-Aug. 2 and one with spectators the next weekend, both in Ohio.

The league and the players union could not agree on a format and compensation, so owners voted to institute a 60-game season to begin in late July. MLB shut down spring training facilities June 19 after reports of players and staff testing positive for COVID-19.

Plans call for a return, without spectators, at the MLS Is Back Tournament July 8-Aug. 11 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla.

The top-level NASCAR Cup Series began racing without fans May 17 and welcomed back paying customers at the Geico 500 on June 22, allowing 5,000 into Talladega Superspeedway.

Like MLS, the NBA is using Walt Disney World’s sports hub to make its return. The season restart will take place in late July with 22 of the league’s 30 teams but without fans.

The NFL is one of the few leagues that hasn’t lost games to the pandemic, having crowned a champion in early February. The 2020 preseason is scheduled to begin Aug. 6 and the regular season Sept. 10.

Hockey is expected to announce two hub cities this week that will host its 24-team Return to Play tournament, which will culminate with the Stanley Cup Finals. A start date has not been announced for the fanless tournament.

The women’s soccer league began a monthlong Challenge Cup Tournament without spectators June 27 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. One team with COVID-19 cases will not participate.

PGA Tour
The tour returned with the Charles Schwab Challenge starting June 11 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. The Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, which starts July 16, is expected to be the first event with spectators.

Pro Bull Riders
PBR got back in the saddle in late April with its first fanless event. It is scheduled to become the first
 major league to hold a ticketed event in a U.S. arena since the shutdown when its Monster Energy Team Challenge Championship takes place July 10-12 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Another early returnee, the UFC had three events without spectators at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., in May. No word on when spectators will be part of the plan.

The league plans a 22-game regular season and playoffs without fans that will start in late July at the IMG Center in Bradenton, Fla.