An arena in Cleveland that is scheduled to host first- and second-round games in the upcoming men’s March Madness basketball tournament will have men’s and women’s conference tournament games this weekend with very few people in attendance.
The Mid-American Conference (MAC) issued a statement Tuesday afternoon that said it will go on with its conference tournament games this week at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, but that only “credentialed institutional personnel, student-athlete family members, credentialed media, television and radio crews, and official team party members will be permitted for attendance for the tournaments.”
The MAC men’s and women’s tournaments will be closed to the general public. MAC officials came to their conclusion after discussing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) with local government and health officials, with worries that the virus could spread in large gatherings.
“The safety of all is our greatest concern. Since January, I have stated that any decision would follow the advice of state governmental officials and medical professionals. Following the feedback we received today we have taken this action which is in alignment with the recommendation of Governor DeWine,” Mid-American Conference Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said.
The first round of the MAC tournament was played on campus sites. The tournament now shifts to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse with quarterfinals on Saturday, semifinals on Friday and the championship on Saturday. The winner of the conference tournament gets an automatic bid to the 68-team NCAA tournament, which begins next week.
Cleveland is also set to host first- and second-round games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse next week, but there is no word yet on whether a full allotment of fans will be allowed to enter, or just limited personnel like the MAC tournament. Each NCAA tournament site has an official host, and the MAC is the set host for the first two rounds in Cleveland.
This news comes the same day that the Ivy League canceled its conference tournament altogether, naming Yale the men’s champion and conference representative in the NCAA tournament.
The coronavirus is also known as COVID-19, which was first detected in Wuhan City, which is in the Hubei Province of China. The virus has affected more than 118,000 people worldwide and is responsible for more than 4,200 deaths worldwide, mostly in China. The virus is starting to spread more rapidly within the United States, with 808 cases being reported, and 28 deaths in the United States, according to research by Johns Hopkins University. The virus has led to less people traveling through airports, or aspiring to be among large crowds.