New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that it could be a long time before games are played in Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center.
In declaring a state of emergency, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio doesn’t foresee any events coming to Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center any time soon. With the coronavirus epidemic grinding the sports world to a halt, the buildings’ tenants could be left scrambling if and when play is ready to resume.
“(This) could easily be a six-month crisis,” de Blasio said, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “This is a fluid situation and we will be back with further details when available.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently banned gatherings of 500 or more people in the state. The mayor confirmed in later statements that the city now has 95 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with that number potentially reaching the thousands by next week.
“This will not be over soon,” said the mayor, according to Ryan Chatelain of WFAN. “This is going to be a long, long battle. It’s going to be a tough battle. We’re going to lose some of our fellow New Yorkers. That, unfortunately, is inevitable. But we can fight back.”
Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden plays host to the New York Knicks and New York Rangers of the NBA and NHL respectively. The NBA was the first major North American sports to stall their proceedings in the outbreak after it was revealed that Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the disease. Utah visited the Knicks on March 4, and several teams on both the basketball and hockey circuits have set up camp in the guests’ locker room.
The NBA suspended the season after Gobert’s diagnosis, putting eight more Knicks home games in jeopardy. Among the potential losses are a March 21 visit from Golden State, during which the Knicks were set to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their first NBA championship. The team called off the celebration before the league decided to go on hiatus.
NHL season was likewise suspended on Thursday. The Rangers are currently two points out of an Eastern Conference playoff spots and had five MSG games left on their docket. While there is no timetable for either league’s return, Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post mentioned that the NHL told its teams to discuss availability with their venues into July.
MSG’s final event to date was a second-round Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament matchup between Creighton and St. John’s. A pair of opening-round games were played on Wednesday, but the tilt between the Bluejays and Red Storm was called off at halftime. The Big East later canceled the remainder of the tournament, joining numerous other conferences. The big hit came when the NCAA shut down both the men’s and women’s national tournaments. MSG was slated to host regional semifinal and final matchups on March 27 and 29.
Meanwhile, Barclays Center potentially loses nine Brooklyn Nets games. The Nets are holders of the Eastern Conference’s penultimate playoff spot at the time of the stoppage, a healthy six games ahead of ninth-place Washington. Brooklyn was originally scheduled to play in an empty arena as their March 12 visit to Golden State was to be staged without fans at Chase Center before its postponement.
Barclays Center also serves as the partial home of the NHL’s New York Islanders, sharing those duties with Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. The Islanders recently announced that they would return to Uniondale’s Coliseum full-time for the 2020-21 season. Nassau was also set to host any 2020 playoff games (the Islanders are one point out of the final Eastern playoff spot) Brooklyn was set to host two more games, one on March 17 against Calgary and another on March 22 against Carolina.
Also in question is the status of the WNBA’s New York Liberty. Under new management of Nets owner Joseph Tsai, the Liberty are set to play in Brooklyn on a full-time basis this coming season. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert released a statement on Thursday confirming that the league is monitoring the epidemic situation as a whole. The 2020 season is slated to begin in May, with the WNBA Draft schedule for April 17.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags