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Sports teams feel varying degrees of new COVID restrictions

Updated November 22, 2020 - 8:43 pm

Las Vegas area professional and amateur sports were affected in varying degrees by Gov. Steve Sisolak’s coronavirus restrictions announced Sunday night.

Sisolak called for a “statewide pause” in reaction to the state’s spike in COVID-19 infections. He made no additional business closures, but beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, among other measures, a stronger mask mandate will take effect, 25 percent capacity will be allowed in businesses, and public gatherings will be limited to 50 people.

Youth and adult sports tournaments also were canceled by the announcement. The biggest of those is the City of Las Vegas Mayor’s Cup Invitational Tournament, a youth soccer tournament that had more than 1,000 teams registered to play during the first two weekends of December.

“We’re clearly disappointed that the only thing that was chosen to be stopped was tournaments,” Mayor’s Cup tournament director Roger Tabor said. “We just don’t understand. We’re still trying to absorb it.”

Tabor said the biggest source of frustration is the tournament’s officials had followed every protocol Sisolak laid out when he allowed youth and adult tournaments to resume in early October. He said the tournament’s plan had strict protocols that had been approved by the state government, and thinks kids playing outdoor soccer is less risky than some indoor businesses that are being scaled back to 25 percent capacity.

Tabor and the tournament officials have the difficult task of telling about 15,000 to 20,000 people about having been shut down and answering the question of why.

Tabor last week estimated it would bring about $10 million to $12 million in revenue to the city.

“(Sisolak) talked about wanting to protect the economy, and it contributes to the economy. The hotels are still open, but he just took away 10,000 room nights. I can’t find the connection to fully absorb it. But it’s devastating.”

Sisolak’s announcement does not change anything for high school sports, according to NIAA assistant director Donnie Nelson. The NIAA’s plan has been dependent on schools returning to in-person learning, and a timetable for that has yet to be announced.

A UFC official told the Review-Journal the organization doesn’t believe the governor’s new order will affect their events. The mixed martial arts company has been hosting televised cards without fans at its Apex facility in Las Vegas since May.

Events are still expected to be held there each Saturday through Dec. 19.

In sports betting, the 1,500-seat Westgate International Theater will restrict its Football Central free NFL viewing party to 50 guests, and the Westgate sportsbook will be limited to 25 percent capacity, Westgate sportsbook vice president Jay Kornegay said.

“I believe any business would be impacted by reducing limits from 50 percent to 25 percent. We understand it and we will operate under these new parameters,” Kornegay said. “Bright side? We’re approaching the holidays and the next few weeks are typically the slowest part of the football season. My recommendation to sports fans is to sign up for a SuperBook sports app.”

Officials at sportsbooks for Circa, MGM properties and William Hill said they would make the changes needed to comply.

Said Circa Sports sportsbook operations manager Jeff Benson: “We’ll follow all guidelines and social distance accordingly in seats, booths and tables.”

Said William Hill spokesperson Michael Grodsky: “We’re going to review the Governor’s order and make whatever changes are necessary to comply.”

The Raiders, Golden Knights and UNLV had yet to react to the decision.

Todd Dewey Adam Hill and Jason Orts contributed to this report. Bill Bradley can be reached at 702-387-2909 or bbradley@reviewjournal.com.

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