Fans will be permitted for all games in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Indianapolis-based NCAA announced Friday morning.
The NCAA said Friday that up to 25% venue capacity will be permitted at the 67 games, following weeks of discussion with the Marion County Public Health Department and other health officials, who had the final say on how many people can gather for sporting events during the pandemic.
Most of the games will be played at a handful of venues in Indianapolis, while remaining games will be played in West Lafayette and Bloomington.
“This year’s tournament will be like no other, and while we know it won’t be the same for anyone, we are looking forward to providing a memorable experience for the student-athletes, coaches and fans at a once-in-a-lifetime tournament,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball. “After the cancellation of the 2020 tournament, we are happy to welcome some fans back to all rounds of the Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.”
Each team will be limited to a travel party of 34 people, with each allowed to distribute up to six tickets to family members—for a total of up to 204 spectators who will be included in the 25% capacity limit. Those family members will not be permitted to interact with the participants throughout their tournament.
The 25% limit will mean the venues may have up to the following number of spectators:
— Bankers Life Fieldhouse: 4,480;
— Hinkle Fieldhouse: 2,275;
— Indiana Farmers Coliseum, 1,625;
— Lucas Oil Stadium, 17,500 (may differ because of two-court setup);
— Mackey Arena (West Lafayette), 3,700;
— Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (Bloomington): 4,305.
However, Indiana University said it will limit attendance at Assembly Hall to just 500 fans. The venue is scheduled to host First Four and first-round games March 18-20.
Spectators at all venues will be required to socially distance throughout their time in the venues, the NCAA said. Masks also are required.
“The No. 1 priority for decisions around the tournament continues to be the safety and well-being of everyone participating in the event,” said NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline in written remarks. “We have been in regular conversations with the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group and local health officials to make sure we have the right protocols in place to provide a safe environment. Additionally, IU Health is providing critical testing and monitoring services enabling us to safely conduct the tournament.”
Regarding the decision to allow fans at games, Patrick Tamm, CEO of the Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association, said the news was as exciting as Christmas, Easter and every other holiday wrapped into one. “This is tremendous news,” he said. “It’s the most positive news that anyone could ever hope for. I’m getting blown up with texts right now from restaurant owners. They’re ecstatic.”