A blizzard moving into the Eastern United States disrupted the sports schedule Friday, complicating team travel and blanketing the field where Sunday’s NFC championship game will be played with a wintry mix.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, crews scrambled to keep up with the storm, clearing snow and sleet from the tarp covering the Bank of America Stadium field. The Carolina Panthers host the Arizona Cardinals there in the NFC championship game on Sunday night.
Fans from afar who planned to make the trip were forced to scramble, too. Delta was among a handful of airlines that canceled all flights to and from Charlotte on Friday because of the storm. The forecast for the game was calling for clear skies, with temperatures expected to be in the mid-20s.
Two NBA games and one in the NHL were postponed, as were several college basketball games and NASCAR’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The NBA said Boston’s game at Philadelphia scheduled for Saturday night will be made up on Sunday at 7 p.m. The Utah Jazz’s game at Washington, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, will be reset at a later date.
The NHL initially shifted the starting time of Friday’s game between the Washington Capitals and Anaheim, moving it up two hours to 5 p.m. The league then postponed it on Friday but did not yet have a makeup date. A decision regarding Sunday’s game between the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins and Capitals will be announced Saturday morning.
Up to 2 feet of snow was predicted from what the National Weather Service was calling a “potentially crippling winter storm.” A state of emergency was declared in Pennsylvania for Saturday. The storm was expected to drop 12 to 18 inches of snow and create possible blizzard conditions beginning Friday evening.
NASCAR called off Friday night’s ceremony in Charlotte honoring Terry Labonte, Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner until Saturday afternoon.
“OK it’s finally snowing,” NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted “I was the dummy who didn’t get the extra bread. Waiting out my repercussion.”
The men’s basketball game between No. 16 Providence and No. 4 Villanova slated for Saturday at Wells Fargo Center was postponed until Sunday at 1 p.m. The Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball game at La Salle also was rescheduled from Saturday to Sunday.
The Atlantic Coast Conference said Thursday the Syracuse-Virginia game scheduled for noon Saturday would be played at 7 p.m. Sunday. The Cavaliers’ visit to Wake Forest, originally set for Monday at 9 p.m., was pushed back to Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Vanderbilt, which postponed its athletic Hall of Fame dinner scheduled for Friday night to honor an induction class that includes Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price and Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, also took no chances on travel for Saturday’s SEC men’s basketball matchup at No. 23 Kentucky. The Commodores left Nashville on Thursday evening for the 4 ½-hour trip to Lexington.
The storm also forced the Atlantic 10, Atlantic Sun, and Ohio Valley conferences to shuffle their weekend schedules, moving some games up and postponing others.
Florida Gulf Coast’s women’s basketball team was delayed for nine hours at the airport in Atlanta before it finally boarded buses Friday afternoon to continue its trip to Nashville. The Eagles play at Lipscomb on Saturday.
Some FGCU players were interviewed by television crews in Atlanta. “Becoming local celebs,” Eagles assistant coach Nicki Collen wrote on Twitter.
Maryland canceled all weekend sports events, including the women’s basketball game between the No. 5 Terrapins and No. 21 Michigan State on Saturday. A women’s game in Rhode Island between visiting Yale and Brown was switched from Saturday to Friday, and the St. John’s Fencing Invitational in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Saturday was canceled.
Monmouth University couldn’t catch a break. Its first home swimming meet in over 30 years had to be postponed from Saturday to Tuesday.
This was no time for horse racing, either.
New York City’s Aqueduct Racetrack canceled Saturday’s card but still remained open for simulcasting, and Saturday’s winter hat and glove giveaway was moved back one week. It was business as usual on Friday at Yonkers Raceway, but the track canceled Saturday’s races.
Maryland’s Laurel Park canceled its Friday card after five races. Planned racing for Saturday and Sunday was also called off. Neither Laurel nor nearby Pimlico would offer simulcasting on Saturday.
Laurel jockey Trevor McCarthy said racing in cold is one thing, but storms are something else.
“When the weather gets real tough, it’s a little brutal,” he said.
Oaklawn scrapped Friday’s nine-race card. The Arkansas track was hit with nearly an inch of rain and an inch of snow.
The NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers announced a special Snowstorm Savings on tickets to the team’s next two home games, against the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. The more snow Philadelphia gets, the deeper the discount.
Not everybody, however, was scrambling for cover.
In La Quinta, California, at the PGA Tour’s CareerBuilder Classic, players were set Friday to enjoy afternoon temperatures in the mid-70s in sunny, calm conditions.
Contributing to this report were AP Sports Writers Beth Harris in Los Angeles; Tim Reynolds in Miami; Jimmy Golen in Boston; Jenna Fryer, Joedy McCreary and Aaron Beard in North Carolina; Brian Mahoney in New York; John Wawrow in Buffalo, New York; Tom Canavan in Newark, New Jersey; Steve Megargee in Nashville, Tennessee; Gary Graves in Lexington, Kentucky; David Ginsburg in Baltimore; Joe Kay in Cincinnati; Dan Gelston in Philadelphia; and John Nicholson in Phoenix.
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