The San Francisco 49ers and other teams may need to find temporary new homes after Santa Clara County banned all contact sports on Saturday to hold games and practice for the next three weeks.
County officials have issued the guidelines in response to the increasing coronavirus cases in the area. The rules take effect Monday and last until December 21.
The 49ers have home games scheduled for December 7 against Buffalo and December 13 against Washington at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The team also practices at that location in the province.
“We are working with the NFL and our partners on operational plans and will share details as they are confirmed,” the team said in a statement.
One person familiar with the situation said the NFL and 49ers had prepared possible back-up plans for the season in case the Niners needed to relocate their operations and have an NFL stadium ready for games. The person spoke on condition of anonymity and did not give details of what those plans were, as the competition had made no announcement.
The rules will also affect the NHL’s San Jose Sharks and college teams at Stanford and San Jose State.
“For those teams, they will not be able to play games or have practices that they have direct contact with within the county,” said James Williams, Santa Clara County counsel.
Williams said he has been in touch with the teams, but no one is willing to disclose their plans to deal with the new rules.
In addition to banning contact sports, the new rules also require anyone who has traveled more than 150 miles from the province to be quarantined for 14 days. The 49ers will play in the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, but will return from that trip before the rules take effect Monday at 12:01 PM.
“This pandemic is like a high-speed train, and our projections tell us we are on track to derail around the third week of December,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Health Officer. “If we don’t brake, now with all our collective strength.”
Cody said Santa Clara County has the highest number of cases in the Bay Area, leading to tougher regulations. If the other counties don’t follow suit, the 49ers could look to play at the Oakland Coliseum – the old home of the Raiders – or possibly the Giants’ baseball stadium in San Francisco. They could also play in a current NFL stadium in a different market.
The NHL has not announced a date for the start of the training camp, but the Sharks have said they would look at alternate locations if necessary. Several Sharks players have held informal training sessions in the team facility in small groups.
Stanford and San Jose State also have different sports in season. The Cardinal has one more scheduled home football game on December 12 against the state of Oregon.
The Spartans have home football games on December 5 against Hawaii and December 11 against Nevada. San Jose State practiced for the season a few hundred miles away in Humboldt State due to restrictions in Santa Clara County.
San Jose state officials will meet with district officials on Sunday to get more details and then formulate a plan.
The second-placed Stanford women’s basketball team has scheduled a home game against San Diego on Monday. The athletic department is discussing options with college and county officials.