ST. PAUL -- It has been three and a half months since the sports world ground to a halt, and ready or not, every major professional sporting league now has a plan to return. Multiple Minnesota professional teams — starting with the St. Paul Saints on July 3 — will be returning to play next month, even as COVID-19 cases spike in states around the country.
When the Twins return in just under a month, they will be the only Minnesota team playing within the state’s borders. Here is a look at where every team (listed alphabetically) stands in its return-to-play plan:
Like the NBA, the WNBA is planning on heading to Florida for their season, where the expectation is a 22-game regular season will begin in late July. All teams are expected to report to training camp in early July.
Games will be held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where teams will train, play and live. The WNBA season originally was scheduled to begin in May and be 36 games.
The Saints have begun “spring training” at CHS Field to prepare for their upcoming 60-game season in the independent American Association. After a quick ramp-up period, they will head to Sioux Falls, S.D., where they will play their home games in front of fans. The season will begin on July 3.
They do not plan on returning to Minnesota until they can host fans at CHS Field, which is currently unallowable under state guidelines. The hope is that that would be this season, executive vice president and general manager Derek Sharrer has said.
The Timberwolves’ season ended when the NBA announced it would invite just 22 of its 30 teams to its quarantine bubble in Orlando, Fla. Though positive COVID-19 cases in Florida have skyrocketed in recent days, the NBA has not announced any changes to its current plans.
On Friday, the league and National Basketball Players Association announced that 16 of 302 players tested on June 23 had tested positive. The plan right now would be to have teams starting to arrive on July 7 with games starting on July 30.
More than three and a half months after leaving spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., Twins players will report to spring training 2.0 at Target Field. Players will report by July 1 and the 60-game MLB season is expected to begin on July 23 or 24. The Twins will play 40 games against the other four American League Central teams and 20 against the five teams in the National League Central.
The Twins are among a handful of teams who already have reported players testing positive for COVID-19. President of baseball operations Derek Falvey said “a few” players have contracted the virus and are doing well in quarantine. None of those players had been training at the Twins’ stadiums in Fort Myers or Minneapolis, Falvey said.
The United, who returned to full-team training sessions last week, will return when the league launches its 26-team MLS Is Back Tournament in Orlando, Fla. next month.
The United, who leave for Florida this weekend, will play a friendly match against the Columbus Crew on July 5. They will play their first tournament match on July 12 against Sporting Kansas City. The tournament has a round-robin format that leads into a knock-out stage.
While the NFL has been the least-affected league by virtue of the calendar, the Hall of Fame Game, the annual exhibition opener scheduled for Aug. 6, was canceled on Thursday. The enshrinement ceremony also was postponed until 2021.
Training camps are expected to start on July 28, and the NFL has said that it is planning to push forward with beginning the regular season — set to begin Sept. 10 — on time.
A small group of Wild players returned to the ice at TRIA Rink this week, skating together for the first time since March. Goalie Devan Dubnyk was among that group and described the experience as relatively normal, with the exception of everyone wearing masks indoors. He expects more teammates to trickle in next week.
The voluntary small group training is part of the NHL’s Phase 2. Phase 3, which includes the start of training camps, is targeted to begin on July 10 if the league and its players agree to a return-to-play plan and health protocols. After that, there would be a 24-team playoff tournament at two hub sites. The Twin Cities are no longer under consideration as one of those sites.