MACON, Ga. – The start of the 2020-21 SPHL season will be delayed by at least a month or two.
The league announced in a news release on Tuesday that a target date of “mid to late December” has been set for the start of their 17th season.
The delay comes as sports leagues across the United States and beyond are navigating the best way forward as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“With the continued spikes in COVID-19 throughout the country and the challenges other sports are facing in their attempts to resume play, delaying our start to December gives us the best chance of completing an entire season with all 10 teams,” SPHL Commissioner Doug Price said in a statement. “In addition, various state restrictions on large gatherings and the economics surrounding the uncertainty of having fans in our arenas in October or November, even at reduced capacity, make it difficult for teams to guarantee the ability to generate the revenue needed to operate if we were to start any earlier.”
“After a healthy discussion among our Board of Governors, we just felt there are too many variables out of our control at this time to attempt starting on time. Delaying the season was a difficult decision, but I believe it was the responsible thing to do when taking everything into consideration.”
The 2020-2021 regular season schedule and playoff format will be announced at a later date.
The SPHL is the first of the three North American minor hockey leagues to announced a delayed start.
Currently, ECHL Board of Governors are continue their work toward a decision on when to start the next season. The American Hockey League is working in close consultation with the NHL on when to start their season, too. So far, no firm decisions have been made.
Stay with The Sin Bin as we continue to follow developments on how the Coronavirus pandemic is affecting minor league hockey.
Brad Harrison is the SPHL Editor for The Sin Bin. Follow Brad on Twitter for the latest on the SPHL and the Macon Mayhem! Also, follow The Sin Bin on both Facebook and Twitter for all the latest AHL, ECHL, and SPHL minor league hockey coverage!