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March Madness Without Fans

Covid-19 strikes at the heart of March Madness as the NCAA announces attendance will be limited to families and “essential personnel.”

Auburn v Virginia Photo by Josh Duplechian/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The Novel Coronavirus, Covid-19, has been sweeping across the globe since it’s initial outbreak in China late last year. Now as it is quickly spreading across the US, the latest large public gathering to fall to it’s highly transmissible risk is none other than March Madness. The NCAA has officially announced that all tournament games will now be closed to all but essential personnel and close family members.

This is a big blow to, among the many site locations, Omaha. The CHI Health Center is a first round tournament site this season and local businesses and hotels will clearly suffer financially as fans will not be materializing with their money this season now.

No word yet on whether the Final Four will be relocated to a true basketball venue as a result, but one has to wonder why on earth they would bother setting up a court in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta if they’re not going to pack it to the brim with screaming basketball fans.

The official statement from NCAA President Mark Emmert:

Update - 5:51 PM: No Fans at the Big Ten Basketball Tournament - Starting Tomorrow

The Big Ten Conference announced during the Minnesota-Northwestern game that no fans will be allowed to attend conference tournament games starting with games played tomorrow through the remainder of the conference tournament.