The Oakland Panthers of the Indoor Football League have changed their minds.
A day after stating they would play their inaugural game against the Iowa Barnstormers this weekend, the team, which is co-owned by former Raiders and Cal running back Marshawn Lynch, announced Friday that it has canceled Saturday's game.
As we have stated since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the safety of our fans, players, & staff remains our top priority. After continually monitoring the situation nationally, we have decided to cancel our Opening Game March 14, against Iowa. https://t.co/hgpJeY8zwt— Oakland Panthers (@Oak_Panthers) March 13, 2020
"Though we enter an almost unprecedented period of uncertainty in sports history, our team, our community and our fans will come out of it stronger than ever," the team said in a statement. "Oakland is still Oakland. The Bay is still the Bay. The world is dealing with a crisis, and we owe it to our community to take responsible actions. We, as an organization, must take the necessary steps to contribute to the global fight against COVID-19. We know that this postponement is disappointing to many fans, players, coaches, but we will be back as soon as it is responsible. We have been deeply touched by all the positive support the Panthers have received from the Oakland community, and we are unwavering in our mission to keep professional football in Oakland."
The Indoor Football League announced Thursday that their season has been postponed until further notice.
The Alameda County Public Health Department recommended Thursday that all non-essential gatherings of 250 or more people be canceled.
The Oakland Panthers are slated to play their home games at Oakland Arena, the former home of the Golden State Warriors.
Every professional American sports league has either suspended or paused its season over the last few days.
Lynch became co-founder and co-owner of the Panthers in September in an effort to keep football in Oakland after the Raiders left for Las Vegas.
“My whole intention was to come back and play with them [the Raiders] until they left,” Lynch told The Mercury News' Dieter Kurtenbach last year. “[Arena football] wasn’t something I was looking at -- not even a little bit. But when the opportunity presented itself -- I’m a big dude on believing in timing and (stuff). This, at the time, really made sense.”
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While Lynch and Panthers might have had good intentions to put the game on for fans, canceling it was the right call at the end of the day.