The coronavirus has shuttered every major North American sports league. When will the seasons start again?
Sports Interaction has interesting prop options on when the NBA and NHL regular seasons might start back up and when Major League Baseball will throw its first pitch of 2020.
UFC, NFL Draft at Least on Horizon
There is zero chance that the NBA, NHL or Major League Baseball will be back up and running before the end of April. That’s not to say there aren’t two major events that month to bet on at Sports Interaction. The site has dozens of props on the NFL Draft, which is scheduled for April 23-25. The league’s general managers want it postponed, but Commissioner Roger Goodell does not. The NFL is getting the sports spotlight to itself right now and Goodell knows it.
While UFC president Dana White has cancelled a handful of events, he says a mammoth UFC 249 card headlined by a lightweight title bout between unbeaten champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and top contender Tony Ferguson will go on as scheduled April 18. It just won’t be in its original location of Brooklyn and no fans will be allowed in attendance.
White claims he knows where it will be held but hasn’t said where as of yet – rumours are it will be somewhere in Florida. Khabib is the -265 favourite with Ferguson at +190 and Sports Interaction will certainly have that card covered if it indeed does happen.
NBA Shutdown After COVID-19 Created Tidal Wave
The NBA somewhat is responsible for some Americans starting to take the coronavirus seriously. The Utah Jazz were scheduled to visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 11, but that game was postponed right before tipoff and it quickly became known that Jazz centre Rudy Gobert had tested positive for coronavirus. That changed everything. Commissioner Adam Silver postponed the season later that night. NBA owners had planned to keep playing but in empty arenas.
This season was to end April 15 and the playoffs to begin that weekend but that’s clearly not happening now. Sports Interaction gives a yes/no prop on the regular season starting again by July 1, with no a -195 favorite and yes at +135.
This week, outspoken NBA owner Mark Cuban said he hoped the league could restart at some point in May in empty gyms. That seems way too optimistic, but all owners and players want to salvage the season in some form “no matter what.” The NBA has never ended a season without a champion.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suspended his games the day after Silver did. The regular season was to conclude April 4 and the Stanley Cup playoffs to begin a couple of days later. Every team in the league had played at least 68 of its 82 regular-season games and some as many as 71.
While extending the NBA season into late summer might make sense not just this year but going forward, it just doesn’t for the NHL – it’s a winter sport, and it’s a challenge keeping good ice surfaces when scorching hot outside.
That the NHL starts the regular season back up by July 1 is +150 and no -212. Keep in mind that the NHL is much more dependent on attendance to make money than the NBA because basketball has such mammoth TV contracts and the NHL doesn’t. Thus, playing in empty arenas would really hit NHL owners in their wallets.
Blue Jays Were Set to Open Thursday
Finally, Thursday was to be the season opener for all 30 Major League Baseball teams – the first time since 1968 that every team in the league was to play on Opening Day. The Blue Jays were to open at home vs. the Boston Red Sox.
One issue with MLB getting started is that players will essentially need another Spring Training to get ready, while NBA or NHL players might only need a week or fewer. From a safety issue, baseball players are a lot more spread out on the field than their NBA or NHL counterparts.
There’s no chance that all 162 games will be played this season, even if teams are playing 10-12 doubleheaders each. The last time there were fewer than 162 games played – there are occasional seasons where a few teams might play just 161, etc., if they had one postponed by weather, are well out of the playoff race and there’s just no time/need to play a makeup game – was in 1995. That year, 144 were played because the 1994 strike carried over into early 1995. That season started on April 25, the latest start to any MLB campaign in the modern era.
That the 2020 regular season begins by July 1 is +140 and no -200. While MLB would like to play as many games as possible, the weather starts getting bad in many cold-weather cities in mid-October. It’s really not feasible to play games deep into November unless they are all in warm-weather cities, those with retractable roofs (like Toronto) or neutral sites.
Predictions For Seasons Restarting After Coronavirus
NBA and MLB begin by July 1, but the NHL goes right to the playoffs so no would be the choice there.