Lots of news in the world of shutdown sports, including a decision to put a hospital in the Clink’s event center, and a big gift to the ‘hood by Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer.
Seattle’s stadium district is about to get back to action. As a hospital.
A temporary, 148-bed field hospital for non-COVID-19 patients, to relieve pressure on Seattle’s hospitals dealing with the pandemic, will be built in CenturyLink Field’s Event Center by the U.S. Army, officials said Friday afternoon.
About 300 soldiers from the 627th Hospital Center at Colorado’s Fort Carson arrived at Boeing Field Friday will create and staff the facility “soon,” according to a news release from the City of Seattle.
“As we continue to do everything possible to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout Washington state, we also need to prepare our healthcare delivery system to deal with people who are sick, or may become ill, as well as all the other health needs of Washingtonians,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement.
Word of the potential decision was first disclosed on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show Thursday night. Sites in Snohomish and Pierce counties were considered, according to the Emergency Management Division of the Washington Military Department, but it settled on facility less than two miles from Harborview Hospital and other health-care facilities on Pill Hill.
Welcome to our community, and thank you for your assistance.
— King County, WA (@KingCountyWA) March 27, 2020
Despite the absence of games, lots of sports-related developments regarding the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are worthy of comment. Here’s a few of the more notable:
Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer is donating $500,000 to jump-start a fund to help people and businesses in the stadium neighborhood– SoDo, Pioneer Square and the International District — survive the sports shutdown.
The Seattle Sounders FC Relief Fund is intended to support a range of needs, from groceries to rent assistance and money that will help shift workers and service providers in and around CenturyLink Field, small businesses that support and serve fans on match day, and non-profits that support individuals and small businesses.
“The Sounders were born here in Seattle over 40 years ago, and we wouldn’t be the club we have become without the support we’ve always found in this amazing and vibrant community,” Hanauer said in a club statement. “It’s our responsibility to step up and give back to the community in a meaningful way.
“Through the Sounders FC Relief Fund, we aim to provide direct support to those who need it most. My mother and I are proud to be able to begin the funding for this incredibly vital project.”
So many are so impacted by the disease and the related economic shutdown that it’s hard to know where to direct donations and help. But if people of means such as Hanauer seed a start-up fund for the neighborhood that houses his enterprise, the good and the goodwill generated is immense, direct and more meaningful.
Particularly when the federal government response has been often crippled by misjudgment and mismanagment, it is imperative that private business and philanthropy throw in immediately. The $2 trillion relief bill passed by Congress is nice, but no one is certain how soon and how much he money will reach impacted individuals and shops.
Kudos to Hanauer for responding decisively.
Speaking of decisive responses, Saints QB Drew Brees popped the sports world Friday when he pledged to donate $5 million to the state of Louisiana as it struggles with a massive spread of the infection likely supercharged by the Mardi Gras celebrations in February.
Brittany and I are committing $5,000,000 to the State of Louisiana in 2020. The priority now is helping our communities get through this tough time.
After considerable research and conversations with local… https://t.co/Qmxzxses6X
— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) March 26, 2020
It can be argued that the amount is less than five percent of his net worth, and that his politics may not be your politics. But the donation helps set a bar for super-wealthies, of which there are many more in Seattle and the nation than a decade ago.
Fans have read about Brees’s charitable works going back to Hurricane Katrina, but his contributions are critical because tourism-dependent Louisiana has so few Fortune 500 companies or major industries to help out in a crisis.
More kudos to Brees, 41, who since his 2006 arrival has become not only a Super Bowl champion, but a giant figure in his state. A future in politics is the object of much speculation in the Big Easy.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed in a letter sent to all teams Friday that the draft will go on as scheduled April 23-25, despite some internal opposition. Some NFL executives think proceeding with business as usual makes him and the league look tone-deaf amid the crisis. But more significantly for football, much draft research time has been taken away by the shutdown.
“There’s a large part of the information-gathering that hasn’t been done yet,” Saints GM Mickey Loomis, a former Seahawks executive, told the Peter King podcast Wednesday. “This isn’t a fantasy draft with just a list of things on a piece of paper. I’d personally be in favor of delaying.”
That kind of comment drew a direct rebuke from Goodell in his letter.
“Public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose,” Goodell wrote, “and is grounds for disciplinary action.”
How Trumpian of Goodell, seeing disagreement as a punishable offense. Numerous fans want the draft as usual, because it’s the only live “action” in the U.S. sports world at least for the next several weeks. But Loomis’s opinion likely reflects those of many of his peers who fear major mess-ups in the 2020 draft.
Yet Goodell’s ham fist has again ruled the day.
Locally, however, given the Seahawks dubious success in first rounds recently, they may do better in an event played more like 52-card pickup.
MLB and the players union Friday agreed on terms that amended the collective bargaining agreement because of the COVID-19 disruptions to the schedule. It’s not official, but players did get a major concession: A full year’s service time, regardless of how many games get played, which counts days toward eligibility for arbitration, free agency and pension.
In exchange, the players were willing to accept the possibility of playing as many games as possible, including extending the regular season into October, playing neutral-site games (warm-weather cities or domes) in November, and doubleheaders.
But there was a potentially odious development for the Mariners’ future. Commissioner Rob Manfred was given the authority to shorten the 40-round draft in June to as few as five rounds. It was seen as a cost-saving move in a year of huge revenue losses.
But as one of the teams planning again to tank he season, the Mariners lose chances to get better.
No player drafted would help this year, but for a team approaching 20 years without playoffs, any personnel-procurement chances foregone is another setback.
It just continues.
Then there’s all kids potentially draftable in rounds 6 to 40, a group that includes some collegians who will not have senior seasons because of the NCAA shutdown.
Yes, many people have circumstances far worse. But one of the most redeeming virtues of sports is that it is so aspirational.
Finally, a few words from a non-Seattle figure. Retired Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully belongs to America, for whom he shared words most welcome.
We know you all missed Opening Day as much as we did. In the meantime until we see you again soon, here’s a special message from someone who always makes us feel better. pic.twitter.com/Na3ea1bjMh
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 27, 2020