The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world: ___ The Nashville Predators have reached an agreement that will allow for a crowd of 12,135 inside Bridgestone Arena for home games played during the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs. The Predators will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round, and all home games will see approximately 70% of Bridgestone Arena’s 17,159 seats filled. The NHL has allowed the capacity increase based on a calibration of outside air flow requirements used uniformly throughout the league to determine venue capacities for the playoffs. To meet this requirement, Bridgestone Arena will supplement its existing HVAC system with three additional air conditioning units. Additionally, in accordance with the city’s updated guidelines, future non-hockey events will be permitted to operate at full capacity. ___ Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy will participate virtually in the team’s rookie minicamp this weekend rather than in person because a close contact tested positive for COVID-19. Nagy will not be on the field when prized quarterback Justin Fields and the team’s other rookies get to work on Friday. They are also scheduled to practice Saturday and Sunday. Nagy will be able to observe remotely and communicate with coaches. He will also be able to lead team meetings, which are conducted via Zoom. ___ As coronavirus restrictions ease in the nation’s capital, the Washington city government says sports stadiums can have spectators at full capacity as of June 11. That will allow the Washington Nationals to let about 40,000 fans into its home games. The Major League Baseball team said Monday it was granted a waiver by the city to expand its ticket distribution at Nationals Park to up to 36% of capacity as of Friday. The Nationals currently are allowed 10,000 fans per game -- about 25% of what their outdoor ballpark holds. As of last month, the NHL’s Capitals and NBA’s Wizards have been allowed to host 10% of capacity at their indoor arena downtown, roughly 2,000 people. That will rise to 25%, about 5,000 spectators, on Friday. Both of those teams would need to make progress through the playoffs in order to reach next month’s date for full crowds. ___ New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that Nassau Coliseum will have a fully vaccinated fan section when the New York Islanders open the Stanley Cup playoffs. Half of the arena will be used as a fully vaccinated fan section with attendees spaced approximately 3 feet apart with an unoccupied seat between each party. Individuals seated in those sections will have to prove they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Young adults and children under age 16 not yet eligible for the vaccine may be seated with a vaccinated adult so long as they've received a recent negative COVID-19 test result. Appropriate social distancing, masks and other health protocols will still apply throughout the Coliseum, which seats 14,500. Entering this week, 66% of Long Island’s adults had received at least one vaccine dose and 53% had completed their vaccine series. ___ New York Road Runners is planning to host races for thousands of runners as New York state eases coronavirus limits for large-scale outdoor event venues. NYRR will more than double the runner field size of the field for the Mastercard New York Mini 10K on June 12 — from 1,200 to 3,000. The Front Runners LGBT Pride Run on June 26 and the Achilles Hope and Possibility 4M on July 10 will each have 4,250 runners. The Mini 10K, a women-only road race, will be the first regularly scheduled and largest NYRR race to take place since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Comprehensive health and safety guidelines and procedures will be in place. All events taking place in New York City's Central Park will operate under NYRR’s return-to-racing guidelines. Those will include increased and staggered starts, self-hydration options, hand sanitation stations, and limited race amenities to uphold adherence to social distancing. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
It took longer than expected but the National Hockey League on Thursday finally announced a full schedule playoffs.
Both opening round series are dripping with intrigue as the Hurricanes, Predators, Lightning and Panthers square off for the Central Division crown.