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Professional soccer is saved in Columbus once again

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On Wednesday, Major League Soccer announced a plan to restart the 2020 season with an all-club tournament in Florida beginning July 8. “MLS is Back Tournament” will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. 

The tournament will be played without fans and will feature all 26 MLS clubs. The Columbus Crew had a record of 1-0-1 before the season was suspended.

Group stage matches in the tournament will count toward the MLS regular season standings. The winner of the tournament will earn a chance to compete in the 2021 Sciotiabank Concacaf Champions League.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber had this to say in a press release from the MLS: 

The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches, and staff as we return to play.

Don Garber

Training for the tournament will begin on June 24. Once the tournament begins on July 8, games will typically be played each day at 9 a.m., 8 p.m., and 10:30 p.m.

For just over two weeks, each team will play three group matches. The top two teams in each group along with the four-best third-place finishers will move on to the elimination stage.

Below you can find the dates for the knockout rounds of the tournament:

  • The round-of-16 matches will take place between July 25-28
  • The quarterfinals will take place between July 30-Aug. 1
  • The semifinals will take place on Aug. 5 and 6
  • The championship round of the tournament will take place on August 11. 

After the tournament concludes, there will be plans to continue the MLS regular season with a revised schedule in home markets. The regular season will still be followed by the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and the 25th MLS Cup. 

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Big Ten sports will be conference-only come this fall

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Hold your beers, Buckeyes!

If you had plans to head out to Oregon come September to see the Buckeyes take on the Ducks, you’ll have to put your cooler back in the garage, because cross-country football road trips are on hiatus for 2020. 

According to reports from The Athletic and ESPN, the Big Ten Conference is going to announce conference-only play for fall athletics. You can read the official statement from the Big Ten here.

The Big Ten is the first of the Power 5 conferences to announce the decision to scrap non-conference games. After losing non-conference games with the Big Ten, the Pac-12 is expected to make a similar announcement, according to The Athletic.

Some of the reasons behind a conference-only schedule include cutting down on travel while also making sure that athletes are being tested diligently for COVID-19.

There is support amongst Big Ten teams to keep one non-conference game, but the majority support a shortened 10-game schedule.

If this were the case, and basing it off of the original 2020 OSU football schedule, here is who the Buckeyes would match up against this fall:

  • vs. Rutgers on Sept. 26
  • vs. Iowa on Oct. 10
  • @ Michigan State on Oct. 17
  • @ Penn State on Oct. 24
  • vs. Nebraska on Oct. 31
  • vs. Indiana on Nov. 7
  • @ Maryland on Nov. 14
  • @ Illinois on Nov. 21
  • vs. Michigan on Nov. 28

As long as we get to beat Xichigan, right? You can keep an eye on the OSU football schedule here.

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Another professional Columbus sports team might see action this year

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While the Columbus Crew were sent down to Orlando to compete in a tournament to restart the season, the NHL is close to following in similar fashion, according to a report from ESPN.

According to ESPN, the NHL and NHLPA have finalized protocols that would allow for the season to start Aug. 1, with training camps resuming July 13. Play will occur in two hub locations, including Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, as told to ESPN.

That means Columbus could see its beloved Blue Jackets back in action in a few short weeks. 

There’s more at stake in teams returning to NHL play than there are for the MLS teams competing down in Florida. If an agreement is reached, the NHL will skate right into a 24-team playoff.

That’s not before starting training camp, which has a target date of July 13. If all goes well, the Blue Jackets will travel to Toronto on July 25 or 26 to compete in exhibition games.

The playoffs would begin the following week with a qualifying round in which the Blue Jackets would face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a best-of-five series. 

Players have the opportunity to opt-out of playing without being penalized. 

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No fans on the course, but The Bogey party will carry on for Memorial Tournament watch parties

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It’s a little more than a month later than expected, but Jack Nicklaus will once again host the world's finest golfers—minus their fans— at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin next week.

The 45th Annual Memorial Tournament will be held July 13-19. While originally it would have been the first PGA Tour event with fans, due to surging COVID cases, the Tour announced this week they will no longer allow fans on the course. "The safety of our public and our employees is our highest priority,” said city of Dublin Director of Communications and Public Relations Sue Burness. 

Outside of the course, with bars and restaurants still navigating operations under health guidelines from Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Health and local health agencies, Memorial Tournament-week festivities are limited.

No large events are planned at Dublin's Bridge Park, which has hosted Fore!Fest concurrently with the Memorial each of the last two years, according to Burness.

But one long-standing tradition will remain intact in 2020—The Bogey in Shawnee Hills will host a watch party throughout the week.

Photo By Julian Foglietti | Shown here is The Bogey's General Manager Mark Dombek

"The Memorial Tournament and The Bogey is a special tradition," General Manager Mark Dombek told 614. "People are going to be ready to enjoy live sports, and The Bogey has always been a place people come for the tournament."

The Bogey will have two giant video walls and stream as much of the tournament as is allowed by the tournament's broadcast partner, Dombek said. 

Health guidelines are ever-changing, Dombek said, but at press time his plan was to have more than 145 new tables added outside the venue (in addition to the 46 new outdoor tables The Bogey added when it re-opened in May), including in the parking lot, which will be barricaded to accommodate the additional tables. A tent will also be set up, so some tables will be covered.

"We're going to fully utilize all of our available space," Dombek said.

Current guidelines still prohibit standing in common areas in bars and restaurants, Dombek said, so patrons will be asked to rent the tables, available for groups of 4-10.

While capacity is impacted by health guidelines, Dombek said he expects to be able to welcome about 1,000 customers at a given time, including the current capacity of 178 inside The Bogey.

Dombek said his staff will enforce social distancing as much as possible, and will place hand sanitizer stations in the temporary outdoor area as well.

The Bogey will host live bands in the evenings, Dombek said, in an effort to make this week "as close to what we'd normally do."

"We've had a ton of people reaching out, asking what we were going to do. This has always been a big week for us. We're listening to our customers and letting them know we're here for as much as we can be," he said.

Visit bogeyinn.com or call 614-766-1900 for information.

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