Finally, the fate of the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Series is clear. On Thursday, Feld Entertainment announced that they will run the final seven rounds of the championship starting May 31 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah, and ending June 21. This is positive news everyone involved, from riders to industry personnel to fans, as it’ll be a return to a sense of normalcy after two tumultuous months caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The vibe of the race day will be much different than what we’ve come to know of SX, due to the number of precautions that must be adhered to, but all will agree that it’s better than nothing.
The statement by Feld Entertainment explains the races will take place on Sunday, not the customary Saturday evenings, which will allow them to expedite the entire process. We’ve learned the AMA has reached out to riders and teams to set the entry list for all three divisions (450 Class, 250 West, 250 East), which will be limited to the top-40 in the current championship point standings, plus competitors approved by the officiating group. Teams have also been told there will be a limit on the staff permitted to attend, including one mechanic per rider, a team manager, and necessary employees like rig drivers or suspension and engine technicians. Riders will go to the starting line for each moto alone, as keeping mechanics away would be an effort to limit the number of people in the tight confines of the grid.
Fans will not be permitted to attend due to current guidelines in the state that limit mass gatherings, a measure that has been clearly stated since the early development of this plan. However, every race will be broadcast live through the NBC Sports Gold Pass streaming package or during scheduled slots on the NBC Sports Network and other television partners around the world. There is a chance that media, including Swapmoto Live, will be able to attend but that is yet to be confirmed to us by the series.
Talk of Supercross resuming in this format has happened for weeks and had State Farm Stadium in Arizona has the most likely venue. The likelihood of the series concluding in Arizona become questionable a few weeks ago, when the state struggled with spikes in COVID-19 cases and extended their lockdown until May 15, which forced Feld Entertainment to contact other venues as a backup plan. Salt Lake City being the host city is somewhat of a surprise, but in many ways, this could be the best outcome possible.
Remember the commotion that occurred when the original 2020 schedule was put out last summer, which had Salt Lake City as the last round instead of Las Vegas? That shake-up was due to the Utah Sports Commission’s sponsorship of the Monster Energy Supercross Series because holding the finale of the series is a prestigious honor for a state that promotes itself as the destination for all sports. In fact, the press release for the intended 2020 schedule included a quote by the Commission President Jeff Robbins that explained the positive influence the race would bring in more money to the state than any single event since the 2002 Olympics. “Utah has a long history of hosting Supercross events and other major international sporting events, including the Olympic Winter Games. The season finale will be one of the biggest sporting events ever held in Utah, driving tremendous economic impact and media value to our great state. We are excited to welcome back the top riders in the world and their terrific fans to Utah.”
That Monster Energy Supercross Series will wrap up in Salt Lake City is a good look for Feld Entertainment and the state as a whole. Feld Entertainment will gain plenty of attention for their ability to properly finish out their full-season amid the pandemic, something that no other professional sporting league has been able to do, and Utah will be able to celebrate that the state’s handling of COVID-19 was enough to hold something of this size. Seriously, this is a massive detail for both parties and is much more important than you might initially think.
Below is the complete press release from Feld Entertainment. We will update this post with more details as they become available…
Feld Entertainment, Inc. announced today that the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, will resume racing at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 31 and will run through June 21. The final seven, made-for-tv races will be broadcast on NBC networks without fans in attendance. The Utah Sports Commission, a longtime partner of Supercross, has coordinated our return to Utah.
Like all forms of sports, the Monster Energy Supercross Championship was abruptly halted in early March after completing ten rounds of the 17-round Championship. The last race was held on March 7 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. where Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac earned his fifth win of the season over top rival Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen, both of whom are competing for their first premier class title with only three points of separation.
The sports industry in the United States, like virtually all industries, is being severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Monster Energy Supercross fuels an entire industry and is the primary source of income for thousands, including competitors. With no events, the industry is in severe economic peril. It’s important to the economic infrastructure to get back-to-work. Unlike other professional sports with guaranteed contracts, Supercross athletes, team personnel and many others involved in event and television production are independent contractors.
“We’re excited to continue our work with Feld Entertainment, Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah, the Utah Department of Health Services and the continued support of Utah’s Governor Gary R. Herbert who made it possible for Supercross’ return to Utah,” said Jeff Robbins, President and CEO, Utah Sports Commission. “We also look forward to showcasing Utah worldwide via Supercross’ global footprint.”
The responsible return to racing will provide guidelines and protocols to competitors and essential staff that complies with all federal, state and local health guidance and mandates. Mitigation efforts include mandated prescreening, testing, temperature checks, face masks, increased sanitation efforts and social distancing to limit contact among individuals executing the events. The stadium will assist with the implementation and execution of our plan. Supercross, in partnership with the Alpinestars Medical Unit, has a trained medical team of 7 professionals to assist on site.
The racing format has been adjusted to reduce the number of athletes to stay within the minimum requirements and a standard race format will be used for all seven rounds, except for the finale which will be an Eastern/Western Regional 250SX Class Showdown.
Supercross Race Format for Final Seven Rounds
450SX Class – 40 Riders based on current point standings and 2020 top 100 number or combined season qualifying results
250SX Class – 40 Riders based on current point standings and 2020 top 100 number or combined season qualifying results
Two qualifying sessions will be held for gate pick
250SX Class – Two Heat Races and a Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ)
450SX Class – Two Heat Races and a Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ)
250SX Class Main Event
450SX Class Main Event
In the final seven races, three champions will be crowned – one in the 450SX Class and two in the 250SX Eastern and Western Regional Classes. It is the hope of the series that the final seven races will start to bring some normalcy to race fans by creating memorable experiences through the live television broadcast that continue to bring people together via a shared experience while also uplifting the human spirit, as all forms of sport do.
Supercross athletes have little to no contact as riders race solo against other competitors and wear several protective elements – full-face helmets that cover the mouth, goggles, gloves, jerseys and pants that leave little to no skin exposed, plus fully secured knee-high boots.
Supercross partners Oakley, Toyota and VP Racing Fuels have been lending their expertise to the medical community and first responders by developing and mass-producing protective shields, eyewear and hand sanitizer. This type of expertise that exists within the industry, coupled with Utah’s leadership and Feld Entertainment’s live event experience will all factor in to helping the industry get back to racing while aiding in the recovery and healing process nationwide.
NBC and NBCSN Television Schedule
Round 11 (East) – Sunday, May 31 | 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm ET on NBCSN then 4:00 – 6:00 ET on NBC
Round 12 (East) – Wednesday, June 3 | 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET on NBCSN
Round 13 (East) – Sunday, June 7 | 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm ET on NBCSN
Round 14 (West) – Wednesday, June 10 | 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm ET on NBCSN
Round 15 (West) – Sunday, June 14 | 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm ET on NBCSN
Round 16 (East) – Wednesday, June 17 | 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm ET on NBCSN
Round 17 (East/West) – Sunday, June 21 | 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm ET on NBCSN then 4:30 – 6:00 ET on NBC
*TV schedule subject to change.