NEWPORT — As major United States professional sports leagues continue their pause in action amid the coronavirus pandemic, officials associated with local athletic events and teams are preparing for an uncertain future.
The U.S. Senior Open is scheduled to take place June 25-28 at historic Newport Country Club, where up to 75,000 spectators are expected to attend the the United States Golf Association-organized tournament.
Beth Major, the senior director of championship communications, said in an email to The Newport Daily News: “As you know, we continue to hold the dates for the championship and monitor all available guidance from the CDC, WHO and other federal, state and local authorities to do what is in the best interests of the community for the health and safety of all those involved.”
Major said more information regarding the U.S. Senior Open is expected “in the coming weeks, and [the USGA] will issue a statement at that time.”
The Newport Gulls, a member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, are scheduled to open the season on June 3 on the road against Keene, New Hampshire. The team’s home opener is slated for June 5 against Vermont at Cardines Field.
Newport perennially is near the top of the NECBL in attendance, with an average of roughly 2,000 fans showing up for each home game.
In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, the NECBL says it is “hopeful that we will play baseball this summer.” Players from throughout the country come to Newport and other NECBL cities and towns while staying with host families. The league said its first priority during the pandemic is “the health and well-being of our players, host families and fans.”
Gulls general manager Chuck Paiva said NECBL brass has been in touch with Major League Baseball, because decisions at that level could affect summertime baseball, specifically the draft.
Paiva said he is “optimistic but realistic” when it comes to the upcoming season.
“At the moment, we don’t have any answer today,” Paiva said over the phone. “We’re going day-by-day and week-by-week and following the advice of our government, the CDC and MLB.”
Paiva said, depending how long the pandemic lasts, a shortened season is a possibility, but not with a start date past July 1.
To celebrate its 20th season in Newport, the Gulls had a number of events planned, including a reunion of past team members on July 10-12 and the league’s All-Star Game on July 19. Paiva said, if there is a shortened season, he would suggest pushing the All-Star Game to 2021 and going without one this year.
But for right now, “we’re planning on playing our season in Newport,” Paiva said. “We can be the beacon of light that gets us back to a level of normalcy. Baseball can be the saving grace for everyone.”
The Hall of Fame Open, the annual ATP World Tour stop in Newport, is scheduled for July. The week includes the induction ceremony — Conchita Martinez and Goran Ivanisevic are to be enshrined — on July 18, and the event has an average annual attendance of about 15,000.
“The Hall of Fame Open remains scheduled as planned for July 12-19 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. We are in close contact with our partners at the ATP Tour and throughout the tennis world, and we are monitoring all CDC and government recommendations,” said Todd Martin, the tournament’s director and CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Currently, the museum, tennis club and grounds at the International Tennis Hall of Fame are closed to visitors and staff, save for the minimum necessary maintenance functions of the courts and property.
Tennis’ schedule already has been flipped upside down because of the coronavirus, with all play suspended until June 7. Major events at Indian Wells and Miami were canceled, and the French Open was moved from May to September. The Hall of Fame Open comes on the heels of Wimbledon, which is to start June 29 in London.
Kim Cooper with Sail Newport said there have been “no cancellations. The events are on as you see on the site.” The earliest competitions are the Thistle Spring Regatta on May 16-17, and the Laser Master Atlantic Coast Championship on May 30-31.