MIAMI (CBSMiami) — For the first time in a long time, it looks like a strong Hurricane is going to impact South Flordia.
The extent of that impact has yet to be determined as Hurricane Matthew is still working its way through the Caribbean, but local sports teams are already working to find solutions to potential problems with scheduled games.
Three local teams, the Miami Dolphins, Miami Hurricanes and Florida Panthers have games scheduled between Thursday and Sunday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Broward and Palm Beach Counties are under a Hurricane Warning while Miami-Dade County is under a Tropical Storm Warning.
The effects of Hurricane Matthew are expected to begin impacting South Florida Thursday morning with the most severe weather coming Thursday evening into Friday morning.
The newly renovated Hard Rock Stadium will be tested by the rain and winds of Hurricane Matthew, and the Dolphins and Canes are hoping that it can withstand whatever comes its way.
That shouldn’t be a problem as the stadium’s new shade canopy is held in place by a series of cables that were built and installed to withstand up to a category 4 hurricane-strength winds.
The Hurricanes are hosting their biggest rival, Florida State, on Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium. At least that’s the plan.
There have been talks about the Canes moving their practices to the Dolphins indoor bubble but nothing has been decided on that front yet.
Hurricane Matthew will have moved past South Florida well before Saturday’s scheduled 8 p.m. kickoff but the storm isn’t the only thing that could potentially cause the game to be moved.
Florida State, which according to head coach Jimbo Fisher usually travels for Saturday away games on Thursday night, is looking into coming to Miami sometime on Friday depending on the weather and the status of local airports.
The Florida State athletic department released a statement to the Tallahassee Democrat regarding Saturday’s game.
“We are in constant communication with the University of Miami and the ACC, and all parties are monitoring the situation.”
The ACC also released a statement, as there are several teams that are hosing games in a location that is in the storm’s path.
“The conference and its institutions continue to monitor the weather forecast for this weekend’s games. Every effort will be made to play the games as long as the safety of players, teams, and fans is not compromised.”
Back in 2004, the Hurricanes and Seminoles had to postpone their meeting in the season opener due to Hurricane Francis. That game was moved from a Monday night to the following Friday night.
Since the Canes have already had their bye week, there are no available weekends that both Miami and Florida State could reschedule Saturday’s game.
Wednesday afternoon the Hurricanes released a note on their official athletics website saying the game was still on.
Athletic Director Blake James was quoted in the post:
“We are monitoring Hurricane Matthew, and are in constant contact with stadium personnel,” James said. “We are hopeful that the impact of Hurricane Matthew will be minimal and the game between the Hurricanes and Seminoles will be played as planned.”
The Dolphins are hoping that by the time their scheduled home game on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans arrives, things will have settled a bit.
Like the Seminoles, there is some question as to the Titans’ travel plans and when they will be able to make it down to South Florida.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said on Tuesday that there have been preliminary discussions about possibly playing Sunday’s game in Nashville if Hurricane Matthew makes it too difficult to play at Hard Rock Stadium.
“We’re prepared to go down, to travel down there,” Mularkey said Tuesday. “And if we got an extra home game, that wouldn’t hurt either.”
New Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said that the team has prepared for these situations as far back as the summer.
“We have protocols that we have in place,” Gase said. “It’s just now kind of a wait-and-see for us.”
On Wednesday the Dolphins announced that their offices will be closed on Thursday when the storm is expected to hit.
The team had already scheduled an off day for the players on Thursday, who practiced on Tuesday when they are usually off.
Dolphins players have been very focused on the task at hand, so the time off to prepare their homes and families will be welcomed.
“None,” said Dolphins defensive end Mario Williams when asked what precautions he has taken for Hurricane Matthew. “I’ve been prepping for Tennessee. All of us haven’t gone around and gotten anything for a hurricane. It has been all Titans, believe me.”
There is a possibility that the game will be moved from Sunday to Monday night in order to allow the region time to recover from the storm and give the Titans an opportunity to travel.
At Miami’s practice facility in Davie, the new tarp that was installed over the summer to protect fans from the elements was taken down as part of the team’s storm prep, as have other items outside of the building.
Thursday night the Panthers had a preseason game scheduled against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, but that game has been postponed.
Both teams would still like to play the game but there have been no plans for a make-up date as of Wednesday afternoon.
“While we are disappointed to announce the postponement of any event at the BB&T Center, the safety of our fans, staff and the people of South Florida is always our top priority,” said Executive Chairman Peter Luukko.
The team has its final preseason game on Saturday at United States Military Academy in West Point, New York against the New Jersey Devils.
The Panthers have to be aware of potential travel issues if Hurricane Matthew impacts the use of South Florida’s airports.
The team may choose to depart South Florida earlier than expected in order to ensure their presence in New York. They were originally planning to fly on Friday.
The Miami Heat have a preseason game scheduled for Saturday in Kansas City, but the team is leaving South Florida early so they don’t get stranded in the case of any airport closures.
The Heat will practice in Houston on Thursday and Friday before facing the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Sprint Center on Saturday night.
The University of Central Florida has moved it’s game against Tulane University to Saturday, November 5th due to Hurricane Matthew.
The game was originally scheduled for Friday night at Bright House Network Stadium which is located on the UCF campus in Orlando.