Sports

Florida teams waiting out Hurricane Matthew; Panthers, high school football called off

Jose Luis, left, and Miro Espana load plywood into a truck in preparation for Hurricane Matthew on Wednesday.
Jose Luis, left, and Miro Espana load plywood into a truck in preparation for Hurricane Matthew on Wednesday. AP

Updated Wednesday, 5:10 p.m.

With all of South Florida under at least a hurricane watch, local teams continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Matthew before making decisions on whether to cancel or postpone big sporting events this weekend.

As of Wednesday afternoon, both the Miami Hurricanes and Dolphins plan on hosting their games at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

With Broward County placed under a hurricane warning late Tuesday night, the Florida Panthers canceled their preseason game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at BB&T Center which was scheduled for Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

The Panthers plan on holding a closed practice at their arena on Thursday morning before leaving town Friday for a weekend trip to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.

Florida plays the New Jersey Devils at West Point in its preseason finale on Saturday night.

Hurricane Matthew, a lethal storm already blamed for 11 deaths, began to regain power Wednesday after crossing Haiti and Cuba, holding steady to a path taking it dangerously close to Florida.

At 11 a.m., Matthew was located about 105 miles south of Long Island, Bahamas, moving at 12 mph. Sustained winds reached 120 mph, with the storm expected to keep pushing northwestward for the next two days. It will likely near, or make landfall, on the Florida coast Thursday evening.

With the track continuing to aim for Florida, forecasters expanded their hurricane warning to cover nearly the entire east coast of the state, from the Miami-Dade and Broward County line north to Flagler County, just south of Jacksonville.

The Miami Heat isn’t waiting around.

According to Manny Navarro, the Heat flew home from its game in Washington on Tuesday but won’t stay long.

The Heat will pack up and leave Wednesday for Houston where it will hold workouts at the Rockets’ facility — they will be playing in China — before Saturday’s exhibition in Kansas City against the Timberwolves.

READ MORE: Heat come home, packing up for Houston

The Heat have a charity event scheduled for AmericanAirlines Arena on Monday and its first home exhibition of the year Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Miami FC has a soccer match scheduled for Saturday night at FIU; as of Wednesday, that games was still on.

A lot of teams in South Florida have already been impacted as the local high school sports schedule has basically been wiped out.

Both Miami-Dade and Broward counties already halted after-school activities on Wednesday, and with school canceled in Broward on Thursday and Friday, all football games have been called off as well.

Most games in Miami-Dade are not going to be played this weekend, either.

Some football games from this weekend will be made up — a number on Monday and Tuesday — because they are district games and have a bearing on the state playoffs.

Many games which are non-district contests will simply be canceled like the much-anticipated game between Deerfield Beach and St. Thomas Aquinas.

The big event in South Florida this weekend is the nationally-televised showdown between Miami and Florida State on Saturday.

The Dolphins play host to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, with Titans coach — and Northeast High grad Mike Mularkey — saying on his radio show Tuesday night that there have been preliminary talks about moving Sunday’s game to Tennessee because of the storm and worries about residual affects in South Florida.

“We're prepared to go down, to travel down there,” Mularkey was quoted as saying by the AP. “And if we got an extra home game, that wouldn't hurt either.”

On Wednesday, the Dolphins said they would close their offices in Davie on Thursday — players and coaches have the day off — but plan on playing Sunday’s game in the friendly confines of Miami-Dade County.

READ MORE: Broward County closes schools, Miami-Dade still waiting

If there is talk about moving the Dolphins game on Sunday, rest assured there is talk about postponing the Miami-FSU game if only because of travel concerns for the Seminoles and their fans — many of whom would be driving south in what is expected to be rough conditions.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Wednesday morning no decision has been made on Saturday’s game.

“I know some people are worried about that,” he said.

The Seminoles will now likely delay their travel to South Florida until Friday if the game remains on as scheduled.

With UM canceling classes, the Hurricanes could practice at the Dolphins’ indoor facility. The on-campus ‘Beat FSU’ rally has been shelved.

“It looks like the worst of it may hit Thursday night in Miami,’’ Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. “So we may have to wait until Friday morning before we go down. That’s our thoughts right now, but we don’t know.

“We’re still getting updates as it goes. We don’t want to take our kids down there while the worst part is there.’’

Further north, the Florida Gators plan on playing host to LSU on Saturday with coach Jim McElwain telling reporters “we’re planning to go ahead with whatever the plans were.”

The University of Florida put out a release Wednesday afternoon saying “a final decision on the start time of the game will be made by 1 p.m. on Thursday as we continue to monitor the storm.”

As for rumors the Gators would move their key SEC game to Baton Rouge?

“The game,” the release continued, “will not be moved out of Gainesville.”

In Boca, FAU’s game against visiting Charlotte is still on as scheduled despite the school closing up campus and the football team traveling to USF in Tampa for practice.

Central Florida moved Friday’s game against Tulane to next month. South Carolina State postponed its game against Bethune-Cookman which was scheduled for Friday.

“Taking into account all the latest projections for Hurricane Matthew, we have to keep the safety of everyone involved in these events at the forefront of our decision-making,” UCF athletic director Dr. Daniel J. White said.

Michelle Kaufman, Manny Navarro, Andre Fernandez, Susan Miller Degnan, Linda Robertson and Adam Beasley contributed to this report.

CLICK HERE: What’s open and closed in South Florida

Links below are to individual team/schools Twitter accounts; games in bold italics have been postponed or canceled.

WEDNESDAY

▪ High school sports

Canceled in Miami-Dade, Broward counties

THURSDAY

▪ Preseason NHL hockey

Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers, BB&T Center; 7:30

▪ High school sports

Canceled in Miami-Dade, Broward counties

MIAMI-DADE SCHOOLS

BROWARD SCHOOLS

FRIDAY

▪ High school sports

Canceled in Miami-Dade, Broward counties

SATURDAY

▪ College football

Florida State at Miami, Hard Rock Stadium (ABC); 8 p.m.

Charlotte at FAU, Boca Raton; 3:30 p.m.

▪ NASL soccer

Oklahoma City at Miami FC, FIU Stadium; 8 p.m.

▪ High school football

Taravella vs. Hollywood Hills (Cooper City), 10 a.m.

Central vs. Jackson (Traz), noon

Booker T. vs. Northwestern (Traz), 5

Reagan vs. South Miami (Tropical), 7

North Broward at Westminster Academy, 6

Pine Crest at West Palm King’s Academy, 4

SUNDAY

▪ NFL football

Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins, Hard Rock Stadium; 1

MONDAY

▪ NBA basketball

Miami Heat Red, White & Pink Game, AmericanAirlines Arena; 7:30

▪ High school football

Flanagan vs. Plantation (PAL), 5

Pinecrest Prep at Highlands Christian, 7

TUESDAY

▪ Preseason NBA basketball

Brooklyn Nets at Miami Heat, AmericanAirlines Arena, 7:30

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