The San Diego Seals lacrosse team will move its upcoming match planned at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to another venue now that the base is serving as a quarantine facility for U.S. citizens who recently visited the epicenter of the coronavirus.
Back in December, the San Diego Seals announced plans to play its "Rumble on the Runway" match at MCAS Miramar. The plan was for the match to be the first-ever professional sporting event played on an active U.S. Marines base.
The National Lacrosse League game was to be played on the flight line, just off the landing strip where several scenes of the iconic movie, "Top Gun," were filmed. The Seals were going to build a temporary 5,500-seat arena just for the big game. The arena would be taken down afterward.
Flight operations would not stop during the game, hence the "Rumble" in the event's title. The idea was to have active-duty Marines attend the historic event, too.
But, as the lacrosse team noted, MCAS Miramar is currently heading up an important "mission" that's causing the team to switch gears.
Earlier this month, MCAS Miramar became one of just a handful of U.S. military bases that would serve as a temporary quarantine facility for U.S. citizens returning to the country from Wuhan, China, amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Pentagon chose MCAS Miramar for the mission, along with Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, the 168th Regiment Regional Training Institute in Fort Carson, Colorado, and Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas.
So far, MCAS Miramar has received two planes carrying Wuhan evacuees. Those passengers were subject to a 14-day quarantine at the base; the quarantine is managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
One woman under quarantine at MCAS Miramar has tested positive for the coronavirus. She is currently in isolation at UC San Diego Medical Center after a mix-up with her lab results caused her to be sent her back to the quarantine facility at the base. But that is another story.
The San Diego Seals said Tuesday that Rumble on the Runway would now take place at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 22 at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The team will take on the Vancouver Warriors.
Had it happened on the flight line at MCAS Miramar as planned, it would've also been the first game in the 34-year history of the league to be played outdoors.
“We respect the decision of MCAS Miramar,” said Seals president Steve Govett in a press release Tuesday. “The focus of our Armed Forces is repatriating flights for American citizens to return from China. While disappointed that we’re unable to host this historic event, we understand the dedication to the mission at hand.”
“MCAS Miramar is disappointed to cancel our participation in the Rumble on the Runway," said Col. Charles Dockery, Commanding Officer, MCAS Miramar. "All of us were looking forward to what would have been a breakthrough event, but our mission in support of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control is our top priority and the best way for us to serve the interests of our Nation. We look forward to another partnership opportunity with the Seals where we can bring professional lacrosse and the Marine Corps together as part of the greater San Diego community.”
The San Diego Seals said all tickets to the game would be reissued Wednesday with seat locations reflecting the layout of Pechanga Arena. Fans with questions about those tickets can call the Seals ticket office at (619) 375-3755.
And, while the game won't hold the historic distinction it had planned, it'll still check off a first for the Seals: it'll be the first morning game in franchise history, the team said.