Sports Return Dates 2020: When Do NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL & Other Sports Start?

MLB and other sports return dates for 2020

Will we get an Opening Day for MLB in 2020? (Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire)

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, US and European sports shut down in February and March 2020.

As leagues worldwide attempt to return to action, this post presents a rundown of the recent status of notable sports and events. Skip to detailed updates on a sport’s projected return date using the links below.

[Editor’s Note: with several sports now underway, this post will no longer be updated with upcoming football information as of mid-August, and all football-related news will now be in this post on the status of NFL and college football.]

Links to full updates:
NBA | MLB | NHLNFLCollege Football | WNBA | GolfSoccerTennisHorse Racing | Olympics

LeagueProjected Start DateCurrent Status
MLBJuly 23 or 24Teams to play a 60-game schedule
NBAJuly 30NBA returns at neutral site in Orlando.
NFLSeptember 10Offseason
CFBAugust 29Offseason
NHLJuly League proposed modified playoff format, players need to approve
PGA TourJune 11Some spring tournaments moved, majors shifted to the fall. PGA schedule has resumed.
MLSJuly 8 MLS is back tournament scheduled to begin in Orlando
Bundesliga (Germany)May 16
EPL (England)June 17Playing
La Liga (Spain)June 12Playing
Serie A (Italy)June 13Playing
NWSLJune 27Return to Training

NBA Return Date 2020

Current NBA Season Status: The season is underway. The NBA announced two straight weeks of no positive coronavirus tests for players in the NBA bubble in Orlando heading into the 8 final regular season games.

Past Update (July 8): Adam Silver expressed concern if there are cases that pop up once the NBA teams have settled into the bubble and finished quarantine, something which could impact the restart. As of early July, games are still on schedule as national rates (and infection rates in Orlando) are on the rise.

Past Updates (June 26): players are reporting to Orlando, and 16 players initially tested positive for coronavirus and will quarantine.

Past Updates (June 9):

Shams Charania has reported the following tentative dates for a NBA playoff schedule:

  • Potential Play-In games between 8 and 9 seeds: August 16-17
  • Start of First Round: August 18
  • Second Round Start: September 1
  • Conference Finals Start: September 15
  • Start of NBA Finals: September 30

What about the NBA Draft? (Updated June 4)

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA has set a date of August 25 to hold the Draft Lottery and October 15 for the NBA Draft.

Past Update (June 3): The NBA will reportedly approve plans on a 22-team return in Orlando, Florida. Games will begin July 31 and include eight regular season games that will be used to determine playoff seeding. The No. 8 and No. 9 seed in each conference could face off in a play-in game if the No. 9 team is within 4 games. The NBA has put out a FAQ with answers to questions on the format and a list of the teams that will resume playing.

Past Update (June 1): The NBA has not yet announced an official return plan. What seems likely is that the NBA will return to a single, neutral site with no fans. The Disney World Complex in Orlando, Florida the leading candidate site because it has sufficient hotels to house teams, and several basketball courts. What is less certain is the format, and how many teams will return to play. The range of possibilities includes going straight to the playoffs, having some play-in games for teams that were just outside of playoff contention, or having an event that includes group play, before advancing to a bracket.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the NBA has set a target date of July 31st for its return.


MLB Start Date 2020

Current MLB Season Status: Season is underway. Though several games have been postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks on teams, and MLB has altered rules to allow for 7-inning doubleheaders to make up games.

Latest MLB Start News (July 23): The season has officially begun. Just prior to the season beginning, MLB announced a change to the playoff format so that eight teams in each league would make the postseason in 2020, and the first round would be a best-of-3 at the better seed’s home park. You can see how that format has impacted the playoff prediction odds here.

Past Update (July 19): The Toronto Blue Jays will not be allowed to play games in Canada this season. Current options being explored include playing games in Buffalo, New York, or in Dunedin, Florida, where the team normally has spring training.

Past Update (July 8): Some MLB teams have had to call off some workouts while awaiting test results over the holiday weekend, raising concerns.

Past Update (June 25): Baseball is back with a 60-game schedule, which will begin play on either July 23 or 24. Players will report by July 1st. Teams will play 40 games within their division and 20 games against the teams from the opposite league, in the same geographical area. This will limit travel, and means the AL East will play the NL East, the AL Central will play the NL Central, and the AL West will play the NL West.

Past Update (June 22): The MLBPA has rejected the owners’ latest proposal, but Commissioner Rob Manfred can now unilaterally implement a 60-game schedule with players reporting on July 1st, and the season starting at the end of July.

Past Update (June 18): Finally some optimism in baseball negotiations. MLBPA Chief Tony Clark and Commissioner Rob Manfred met in Phoenix on Wednesday to discuss the framework of a deal.

Manfred issued the following statement:

“We left that meeting with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents. I summarized that framework numerous times in the meeting and sent Tony a written summary today. Consistent with our conversations yesterday, I am encouraging the Clubs to move forward and I trust Tony is doing the same.”

Past Update (June 8): MLB Owners have made another proposal to the MLBPA, this time for a 76-game schedule with 75% pay, prorated for the number of games played. The owners also included a proposal to not include draft pick compensation for free agent signings next offseason, which would theoretically increase compensation on free agent contracts.

Past Update (June 3):According to Jeff Passan, the owners are considering a 50-game season if the two sides cannot reach an agreement soon. The players had submitted a counter-proposal to MLB’s earlier offer that included a plan for 114-game schedule to be played.

Past Update (June 1): The MLB and MLBPA (the players’ union) are currently in a standoff over player compensation. The players had already agreed to prorate their salaries for the number of games played, but MLB owners want further reductions.

In addition, the specific format of any delayed, shortened season still needs to be agreed. If an 82-game schedule is the plan, then MLB would need to start games by mid-July in order to proceed to the postseason by October, and conclude it by mid-November. That means the sides will likely need to reach an agreement before mid-June to facilitate bringing the players back to training and getting ready for the season.

NHL Return Date 2020

Current NHL Season Status: Season underway with qualifying playoff games played. The Round of 16 starts on August 11.

Latest NHL Start News (July 8): The NHLPA Executive Board has approved a return to play plan, and it must now be voted on by all the players, with a simple majority required for final approval. The NHL’s plan includes playing in Toronto and Edmonton as hub cities for the playoff format.

Past Update: The NHL has decided on a 24-team playoff plan, to be played at multiple hub cities. The regular season would end without resuming. The top 12 teams in each conference would advance to an expanded playoff format, with the top four teams in each conference getting byes.

However, the players need to approve the plan. No date has been set yet for the return of the NHL.

NFL Start Date 2020

Current NFL Season Status: The NFL is in the offseason, and on schedule for a September 10 opening day. The Player opt-out date has passed and here is a list of those that have done so.

Latest NFL Start News (July 20): With rookies for the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans (the first two teams to play in the Thursday opener) set to report on Monday, the league and NFLPA are still publicly battling over safety protocols. Also, in response to player’s request for no preseason games, the owners have come back with a proposal to play one per team.

Past Update (July 8): The haggling between owners and players over financial and safety factors has begun. The owners have proposed putting 35% of player salaries in escrow, something that the players will strongly oppose.

Past Update (June 9): The NFL has released a memo outlining procedures for players regarding testing, and what happens with a positive test. They have also outlined procedures for cleaning of facilities.

Past Update (June 4): Texas Governor Greg Abbott has stated that sports teams can have fans at 50% capacity, which is potentially relevant to two franchises, the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, for whether they can have fans in the stands this fall.

Past Update (June 3): While offseason workouts have been impacted, training camp does not officially begin until late July.

The NFL has built several contingencies into its 2020 schedule in case the season is delayed, that include the following:

  • Pushing back the Super Bowl by up to three weeks. Sports Business Journal reported in April (How NFL is set, if needed, to shake up its schedule) on the possibility of the NFL adjusting the schedule by moving the Super Bowl from Feb. 7 to Feb. 28 if necessary to delay the season.
  • Moving early weeks of season to end of season. If the start was delayed, the NFL could move early weeks to January while pushing the playoffs back.
  • Eliminating bye weeks. All matchups in current Week 2 involve teams that share later bye weeks, and those matchups could be moved if necessary.
  • Eliminating Weeks 3 and 4. If the NFL was delayed enough to need to shorten season, Weeks 3 and 4 would be first to go. There are no divisional matchups and teams have exactly one home and one road game across these two weeks.

We also analyzed how changes to the 2020 NFL season structure could impact survivor pool strategy.

College Football Start Date 2020

Current College Football Season Status: The Mid-American Conference became the first FBS conference to cancel fall sports in 2020. The Big Ten and Pac-12 joined in cancelling their fall seasons on August 11.

Latest CFB Start News (July 30): The SEC announced that they will play a 10-game, conference-only schedule that will begin on September 26, with the conference championship game pushed to December 19.

Past Update: (July 10): The Big Ten and Pac-12 have announced that they will play only conference games in 2020. The other three power conferences (ACC, Big 12, and SEC) will make a decision later in the month of July.

Past Update (June 9): We will update here if there is any reporting on delays or certain schools not playing in 2020. Several schools begin workouts in mid-June with players, after the spring practices were wiped out due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In contrast to the NFL, which has a more limited number of decision-makers, colleges have to deal with decisions of individual school presidents and school system administrators, as well as individual conference commissioners. 

These factors increase the risk of regional responses and partial cancellations by some schools but not others depending on conditions. For example, the Cal State system announced that the fall semester would be conducted primarily online, though the schools that play football in the Mountain West from that system still haven’t ruled out playing football. (Source: Coronavirus: CSU announcement impacts Mountain West football programs).

WNBA Start Date 2020

Current WNBA Season Status: Season Underway.

Past WNBA Start News: No formal plan has been outlined yet by WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, who said she will be guided by data over dates. Teams were required to get their final rosters set by May 26 to begin paying players on June 1.

Golf Schedule & Start Dates

Several spring events were canceled or moved to later this year. The first PGA tournament still on the schedule is the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas from June 11 to 14.

The Majors have also been impacted by the pandemic.

The Masters 2020 Date

The Masters is scheduled for November 12 to 15 this year, making it the final Major event of the year.

British Open 2020 Date

The British Open was canceled for 2020, marking the first time the event will not take place in a calendar year since World War II. Like Wimbledon, the British Open had taken out a pandemic insurance policy that covers some of the losses from this year.

PGA Championship 2020 Date

The PGA Championship will take place August 6 to 9 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California. With The Masters moving to November, the PGA will be the first golf major played in 2020.

U.S. Open 2020 Date

The U.S. Open has now moved to September 17 to 20, at Winged Foot Country Club in New York. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, no U.S. Open qualifying events will be played this year. The field will be set entirely by exemptions, which will be expanded.

Ryder Cup 2020 Date

The Ryder Cup has been postponed to 2021.

LPGA 2020 Event Dates

The LPGA Tour is currently set to resume with the Walmart Northwest Arkansas Championship on June 18. The U.S. Women’s Open moved from its original date in June to December 7-13.

Soccer Schedule & Start Dates

Several soccer leagues in both the US and Europe are in the process of returning to action.

Major League Soccer (MLS) Return Date

Latest MLS News (July 8): The MLS tournament kicks off on July 8th, without FC Dallas, which was withdrawn because of the volume of positive tests among the team impacted the ability to field a competitive roster. The Nashville team’s status is still up in the air as five members of the team tested positive.

Past Update (June 11): MLS has announced a World Cup-style tournament to take place in Orlando, Florida at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. For those that remember the World Cup formats from 1986 to 1994, MLS teams have been drawn into six groups, five of them with four teams and one with six teams. The top two teams, and the four best third-place finishers, will advance to a knockout round event.

The groups are organized by Western and Eastern Conference teams, and the group stage games will count toward the regular season standings.

Past Update (June 3): MLS has not set an official return strategy. One that has been reported is to hold games initially in a centralized site like Orlando in group formats, in a tournament style, before later moving back to home markets for a shortened regular season.

National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL)

The NWSL is going to use a single-site format in Utah, and begin a one-month mini-season on June 27. The nine teams play a round-robin schedule, with the top eight teams then advancing into the playoffs.

German Bundesliga Return Date

The German Bundesliga became the first major soccer league to return to action in mid-May and is set to complete its season by the end of June.

English Premier League (EPL) Return Date

The EPL is now set to return to action on June 17. The FA Cup resumes with quarterfinal action on June 27.

Serie A (Italy) Return Date

Serie A is set to resume action on June 13.

La Liga (Spain) Return Date

The Spanish league will return to action on June 11, and La Liga will push back the start of the next season to September.

UEFA 2020 Date

UEFA 2020, an international soccer tournament between European nations, has already been moved from its June and July 2020 dates and will now be played in 2021. Most of the field is set but remaining playoff games to determine the final four teams will be played in June of 2020.

The event was scheduled to take place in venues across Europe, rather than in one host nation, in honor of the 60th anniversary of the first European Championships. It will still be called UEFA 2020.

Copa America 2020 Date

The Copa America Tournament was postponed until 2021. The international soccer event that serves as a championship for the South American nations will now take place from June 11, 2021 to July 11, 2021, in Argentina and Colombia.

Horse Racing / Triple Crown Schedule & Dates

The Triple Crown of Horse Racing has a new order thanks to schedule changes.

Belmont States 2020 Date

The Belmont Stakes will take place on June 20, without fans, and will take place at 1.125 miles instead of the tradition 1.5 miles.

Kentucky Derby 2020 Date

The Kentucky Derby has been moved to September 5.

Preakness 2020 Date

The Preakness will now be the final leg of the Triple Crown, and will take place on October 3.

Tennis Grand Slam Dates

The Grand Slam events are now going forward (or not) as follows:

Wimbledon 2020 Date

Wimbledon 2020, originally planned to start on June 29, has been canceled and will not be rescheduled. The tournament organizers purchased pandemic insurance in 2003 and that coverage likely contributed to their willingness to cancel the event for this year.

U.S. Open 2020 Date

The U.S. Open is scheduled for August 31 to September 13, 2020.

French Open 2020 Date

Originally scheduled for May, the 2020 French Open has a new date and is now scheduled from September 20 to October 4. Read more on why French Open officials are optimistic.

Indianapolis 500 2020 Date

The Indianapolis 500 was moved from its traditional Memorial Day schedule, and will now take place on August 23, 2020.

Summer Olympics 2020 Date

The 2020 Summer Olympics scheduled to take place in Tokyo, Japan have been moved to 2021. The international event will now take place from July 23, 2021 through August 8, 2021.