The College Football Playoff semifinal game previously scheduled to take place in Southern California’s famed Rose Bowl stadium on New Year’s Day has been officially relocated to a stadium in Texas after county officials barred groups of spectators from attending due to spiking coronavirus cases and deaths in California. 

Officials for the College Football Playoff and the Tournament of Roses, which hosts the Rose Bowl annually, announced Saturday that the game will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where county officials will allow coaches and players from both teams to invite guests. 

“While the Pasadena Tournament of Roses is extremely disappointed that this year’s game will not take place at the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, the decision to move the game is based on the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Southern California along with the inability to host player and coach guests at any game in California,” tournament officials said in a statement.

“We are very grateful to Rose Bowl officials and the City of Pasadena. They have worked hard to listen to the concerns of the CFP, the teams that might have played there, and their state and government officials,” said Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff.

Texas, like California and several other states across the country, is experiencing a spike in new coronavirus cases and deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Saturday’s announcement that the Lone Star State will host the relocated College Football Playoff game came roughly a month after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) vowed to oppose “any more lockdowns” designed to stop the spread of the virus, such as those restricting large gatherings. 

On Friday, University of Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told reporters Notre Dame football might boycott the playoffs unless restrictions on spectators were relaxed. By Saturday, the previously scheduled game in California was moved to Texas, which was among the last states to enforce social distancing guidelines at the start of the pandemic and one of the first states to relax them

College athletics have been haphazard throughout the pandemic, with some conferences and schools electing to cancel their seasons while others tried to move forward with plans as usual. The result has been a mess of a schedule, with schools playing varying numbers of games often scheduled around teams’ coronavirus outbreaks. The rush by some university and team officials to get unpaid college athletes back on the field and in front of spectators has demonstrated just how vital athletic programs are to the financial survival of universities throughout the country. 

With that knowledge, earlier this year, hundreds of college athletes threatened to boycott the season to secure better health protocols and compensation.


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