DAVIE–The NFL announced today the Dolphins’ season opener against Tampa Bay will be moved or rescheduled.
The teams, the NFL and government agencies have been deliberating this week whether to relocate or reschedule the game. It had been slotted for 1 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium, but if the storm reaches South Florida, the brunt of it is expected to hit Saturday night or Sunday morning.
The league said the game will be played at an alternate venue or held in South Florida later in the season.
“In the interest of public safety in light of the current state of emergency, the NFL, in consultation with state and local officials as well as both clubs, has decided that playing an NFL game in South Florida this week is not appropriate,” the league said in a statement.
One option is to match the teams up on their shared bye week, a convenient coincidence, which comes the weekend of Nov. 19. The Dolphins would be coming off a Monday night game at Carolina, and the Bucs are home against the Jets on Nov. 12.
This is the second time in recent history a Dolphins season opener has been changed because of weather. In September 2004, the opener was shifted from Sunday to Saturday because of concerns about Hurricane Ivan.
There was concern about a home game last October when Hurricane Matthew threatened South Florida before turning north and hitting closer to Jacksonville. The Dolphins closed their facility for one day, but were able to host Tennessee as scheduled.
Incidentally, the Dolphins came into the week planning to do the majority of their Tampa Bay practices Monday through Wednesday. Gase said the team would essentially be as prepared as usual even if the game was changed.
The next concern for the Dolphins, football-wise, is their Week 2 game at the Chargers. The team is scheduled to fly to the Los Angeles Sept. 14, but now might need to rearrange those plans.
While the football season is not the most important thing in a situation like this, the Dolphins will proceed and almost certainly play the Chargers as scheduled. If Irma wrecks their practice field in Davie, they’d need to find a new location to prepare for that game.
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