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Hurricane Ian: Bucs-Chiefs will be played, but NCAA football games affected

Hurricane Ian damaged a sign directing fans to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Tampa Bay Rays are playing away from home for the rest of the season, so their games were not affected. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Hurricane Ian made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday afternoon, but its effects could be felt in the sports world for days after the storm came ashore, and not only in Florida. The storm already has caused several leagues to alter their plans for upcoming events. Here’s a rundown of where things stand:

Hurricane Ian tracker: Map and projected storm path


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced Thursday that their home game Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs will be played as scheduled after Hurricane Ian tore through the region earlier in the week. The teams will meet Sunday at 8:20 p.m. Eastern.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the many thousands in the Southwest Florida region who have been severely impacted by Hurricane Ian,” the Buccaneers said in a statement. “We are also very thankful that the Tampa Bay area was spared the most damaging consequences of this powerful storm. We have informed the NFL, after consulting with local and state agencies, that we are ready to play Sunday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium as originally scheduled.”

The Bucs relocated to the Miami area to prepare for the game at the Dolphins’ practice facility, and the game’s status was up in the air until Thursday. But Tampa largely was spared the worst from Ian after it made landfall to the south, with scattered reports of downed power lines, felled trees, home damage and electricity outages in the area.

“We were lucky once again,” Bonnie M. Wise, Hillsborough County administrator, told reporters Thursday, adding that the hurricane’s late change of track “spared us from the worst of the wind and the rain.”

Ian has brought ‘historic’ damage to Florida, DeSantis says; 2.6M lose power in the state

College football

Saturday’s game between South Florida and East Carolina in Tampa will be relocated to Florida Atlantic University’s stadium in Boca Raton, on the state’s Atlantic coast. The game will be played at 2:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

Florida’s home game against Eastern Washington, originally scheduled for noon Saturday, was moved to noon Sunday.

Florida State canceled classes this week and will close its campus Thursday and Friday as a precaution, but the school announced Tuesday that it remains “confident that we will be able to safely host Saturday’s football game against Wake Forest at its scheduled kickoff time.” The game is at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. Tallahassee is expected to be spared much impact from Ian apart from windy conditions Thursday.

Central Florida canceled classes Wednesday through Friday and will close its Orlando campus on those days, though it’s expected to reopen Saturday. The Knights’ home game against SMU was moved from Saturday to 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.

South Carolina announced Tuesday that its home game scheduled for noon Saturday against South Carolina State will be moved to Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern.

The kickoff of Saturday’s game between Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C., has been moved back three hours to 7 p.m. Eastern.

Other college football games could be played under wet and breezy conditions Saturday as the remnants of Ian move into the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic region:

  • Texas State at James Madison, 1:30
  • Michigan State at Maryland, 3:30
  • Virginia Tech at North Carolina, 3:30
  • Liberty at Old Dominion, 6
  • North Carolina State at Clemson, 7:30
  • Virginia at Duke, 7:30


The Atlanta Braves and New York Mets are scheduled to begin a crucial three-game series Friday in Georgia, and even though Ian is not expected to affect the Atlanta area all that much apart from some breezy conditions Friday, the teams and MLB have reportedly discussed contingency plans, among them a split doubleheader Sunday.

Previous forecasts had suggested that Atlanta could receive a good amount of rain this weekend, but Ian’s track has taken it well east of the city.

Though both teams have the day off Thursday, MLB reportedly is not considering starting the series then. MLB also has not given serious consideration to moving the series to a neutral site.

On Wednesday, Mets Manager Buck Showalter jokingly told reporters he was on “double-secret probation” when asked to disclose details about the plans but said “we know what’s going on.” A decision could come any time before Friday morning.

The Mets will enter the series with a one-game lead over the Braves in the NL East. (Both have clinched at least wild-card berths.) Both teams’ seasons end Oct. 5, and the playoffs are not scheduled to begin until two days later, meaning games could be made up Oct. 6, if needed.

The Philadelphia Phillies, who hold a half-game lead on the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL’s final wild-card berth, begin a four-game series against the Nationals in Washington on Friday. The D.C. area is expected to get rain from Ian’s remnants over the weekend, so Saturday’s scheduled doubleheader has been moved to Friday.

The game scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Saturday — the second game of an originally scheduled doubleheader that day — now will be played at 1:05 p.m. Friday, before that day’s 7:05 p.m. game. The game scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Saturday will be played as scheduled.


The Tampa Bay Lightning moved its training camp to Nashville. It will play an exhibition game against the Predators in Nashville on Thursday — the game originally was supposed to be played in Tampa — and remain there to play the Predators again Friday in a game that had been previously scheduled. Wednesday’s scheduled preseason home game against the Carolina Hurricanes was postponed.