Fort Worth to help restart sports world sans spectators with IndyCar and PGA events
Fort Worth will be the epicenter of the return of the sports world in the United States when both the IndyCar Series and the PGA Tour put on events in the city in June — although both will take place without spectators.
The NTT IndyCar Series' Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway will be first out of the gate on Saturday, June 6, followed shortly by the PGA's Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club, June 11-14.
As two of the first major U.S. sports leagues to start competing again amid the coronavirus pandemic (NASCAR will be the first with a race on May 17), both are taking extra precautions to ensure that competitors and staff are protected.
IndyCar will limit the number of personnel on site, have a health screening system administered to all participants, provide PPE equipment to everyone entering the facility, put in place social distancing protocols, and install a revised competition layout to increase distancing. They are also condensing the schedule of the race, with practice, qualifying, and the race taking place on the same day. Consequently, the normally 248-lap race has been reduced to 200 laps.
According to PGATour.com, measures being taken by the PGA Tour for the tournament Fort Worth fans still lovingly call "the Colonial" will include players and caddies taking medical questionnaires, temperature readings, and being tested with nasal swabs both before they travel to the tournament and after they arrive in Fort Worth. They will also provide masks and sanitizer, and limit the number of people allowed inside any structure at the same time. All players and caddies will travel to and from the event on private airplanes.
In a recent article on ESPN.com in reference to the PGA Tour, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said she was confident the city was prepared for the return of professional sports.
"I'm very optimistic we can pull this off,'' Price said in an interview with ESPN. "We are committed to have testing for the players, caddies, and anyone who is going to be working at the clubhouse or the course. Health and safety are clearly the most important — not just for us, but for all of the PGA [Tour] officials and workers, as well."
The Charles Schwab Challenge will include such popular players as Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, and more, pending testing results.
Of the four biggest sports leagues in the United States — NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB — none has announced any concrete plans to resume play. There have been rumors of July returns for both MLB and NBA, but neither has announced anything official yet.