Before it even approached the United States, Hurricane Ian had already impacted college and professional sports, with several teams altering plans for games this week — and not just in the state of Florida.
The latest forecasts for Hurricane Ian suggest the massive, powerful storm will make landfall in Florida’s Sarasota County, and high winds and storm surge are still expected farther north into the Tampa Bay region — where NFL, NHL and MLB teams reside and a major university is located.
But even schools not in the immediate vicinity of Tampa Bay have already taken proactive steps by rescheduling games. How Hurricane Ian is affecting the sports landscape this week:
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UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA
South Florida’s football game with East Carolina has relocated to Boca Raton as Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida’s west coast. The South Florida Bulls (1-3) and East Carolina Pirates (2-2) will play at Florida Atlantic University’s Howard Schnellenberger Field on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.
South Florida, which relocated to Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday afternoon following an on-campus practice, and East Carolina were originally tabbed for a 7 p.m. start on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. — Emilee Smarr, Palm Beach Post
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
The Florida-Eastern Washington football game, originally scheduled for Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, has been moved to Sunday at noon ET. The game Sunday will still be on SEC Network Plus and available on ESPN+.
The University Athletic Association said it will work with UF, local and state officials to monitor Hurricane Ian and any potential impacts on the newly-scheduled date. — Kevin Brockway, Gainesville Sun
UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA
UCF’s game against Southern Methodist, originally scheduled for Saturday at FBC Mortgage Stadium in Orlando, has been moved to Sunday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET with broadcast designation, on the ESPN family of networks, to be determined.
🚨Sunday Knights Football🚨
Due to Hurricane Ian, this week’s matchup with SMU has officially been moved to Sunday at 1:00PM
📺 = TBD on an ESPN network pic.twitter.com/vArhj2WfLq
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA
The South Carolina State at South Carolina football game, originally scheduled for noon Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, has been moved to this Thursday at 7 p.m. ET, the school announced Tuesday. The game will be televised on SEC Network.
“Due to the potential impact of the hurricane on Columbia and the surrounding area, it is in the best interest of safety to play the game on Thursday rather than Saturday afternoon,” South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner said.
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
Florida State remains optimistic that it will be able to safely host Saturday’s football game against Wake Forest, which is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET at Doak Campbell Stadium (ABC).
Demon Deacon head coach Dave Clawson is not exactly echoing that sentiment as Hurricane Ian approaches.
“You certainly hope the ACC office makes the right decision,” Clawson said in his press conference Tuesday afternoon. “And if they don’t, we will. We are not going to travel down there and put anybody at risk. We are monitoring the weather.
“Obviously this is in the league’s hands, in Florida State’s hands. We would hope that they would make the right decision. But if we feel that there is any danger to our players going down there, we are not going to go.”
What Clawson precisely meant by the ACC making the “right decision” remains unclear. He declined to elaborate about that remark. — Carter Karels, Tallahassee Democrat
Stetson, which is located in Deland, Florida, canceled its game at San Diego that was scheduled for Saturday afternoon because of travel difficulties due to Hurricane Ian.
The NFL is considering an alternate location for the Super Bowl 55 rematch pitting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Kansas City Chiefs. The game is scheduled for Sunday at 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
“We’re monitoring the storm and continuing to talk to both teams,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told USA TODAY Sports. “Unfortunately, we’ve had experience in these matters. We’ll be ready.”
McCarthy wouldn’t speculate on potential sites but expects the league would make a decision by Friday at the latest. One possibility: U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, with the Minnesota Vikings facing the New Orleans Saints in London. — Jarrett Bell
On Monday, the Tampa Bay Lightning postponed two preseason games scheduled at Amalie Arena in Tampa — Wednesday vs. the Carolina Hurricanes and Thursday vs. the Nashville Predators — as Hurricane Ian approaches. The 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup champions and 2022 runner-up have temporarily relocated Lightning training camp to Nashville and will face the Predators in their arena on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET and Friday at 6 p.m. ET.
The Tampa Bay Rays will be on the road the rest of the week as they battle for an American League playoff spot during the MLB season’s home stretch. The Rays play the Guardians in Cleveland, Tuesday through Thursday, before a three-game set against the Astros in Houston, beginning Friday.
Contributing: John Bacon and Mike Brehm