Irma already causing big changes to Florida sports schedules
Hurricane Irma's looming arrival is already preventing the Miami Dolphins and Florida International from hosting their respective home openers this weekend, with more changes almost certain to happen in the coming days.
The Dolphins were scheduled to host to Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon; FIU was to host Alcorn State on Saturday night. Officials decided on Tuesday that neither of those games will be played in South Florida, though they may be played elsewhere this weekend.
And it wasn't just the Miami area keeping a close eye on Irma. All over Florida, teams were bracing for what may happen.
UCF's Saturday game against Memphis was also moved up to Friday, and No. 10 Florida State was reviewing options regarding its Saturday night game against Louisiana-Monroe - with moving kickoff to earlier in the day a possibility.
"Obviously we've got to be prepared for what's coming," said Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler, who has never been through a hurricane before. "But I think everyone in South Florida has kind of been through the drill and is well prepared."
The Dolphins and Buccaneers may play at a neutral site, or play in November since they share the same bye week. FIU officials were trying to find any way to get their game in as well.
"We are monitoring the situation and looking at all options," FIU executive director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia said.
For now, No. 16 Miami and Florida Atlantic are planning to play this weekend — well out of the storm's projected path. Miami is scheduled to go to Arkansas State, and FAU is set to visit No. 9 Wisconsin.
Getting out of South Florida shouldn't be a problem for those teams. Getting back might be another story.
"Right now, everything is on go," Hurricanes coach Mark Richt said. "But with this storm coming and the direction it looks like it's taking, it's certainly a possibility it comes here, so we'll have to figure out what's best."
Irma's winds were 185 mph Tuesday, a strong Category 5 storm, and forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said it could strengthen more as it neared the eastern-most Caribbean islands. The storm had the most powerful winds ever recorded for a storm in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Miami Marlins won't have any home games affected by Irma; the team leaves for a road trip on Wednesday night. Families of Marlins players have been invited on the trip, so they wouldn't have to ride out what could be a devastating storm at home.
"If you had your kids here and you're leaving on a trip, it's not the best feeling to leave your family somewhere," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
In other Irma-related sports news Tuesday:
— New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi indicated that he wasn't sure if the AL wild-card leaders would start a series at Tampa Bay as scheduled starting Monday because of Irma fears. "It might be in jeopardy, and I think anyone that looks at the path would assume that it might be in jeopardy," Girardi told reporters in Baltimore. Moving the series to New York may be a possibility.
— The Florida Panthers, who were scheduled to host a blood drive to aid Hurricane Harvey relief efforts on Friday, moved that event to Wednesday.
— The Florida State League announced the cancellation of its championship series. The North and South Division winners will share the title in the league. The Tampa Yankees and Dunedin Blue Jays are meeting for the North title, and the Palm Beach Cardinals or Fort Myers Miracle are playing for the South crown.
— An open tryout in Miami for the Heat affiliate in the NBA G League, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, has been pushed back from Sunday to Sept. 24.
— Miami's home women's soccer games against College of Charleston on Friday and Stetson on Sunday have been cancelled. Miami also called off a cross country meet it was set to host on Saturday.
— Miami's volleyball team canceled a weekend trip to Philadelphia, where it was to play two matches.
— High school football games in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties were postponed; in Broward County, games set to be played this weekend were moved up to Wednesday night.