Fans to be allowed at NCAA men’s basketball tourney games

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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.”

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22 thoughts on “Fans to be allowed at NCAA men’s basketball tourney games

  1. “Masks are also likely to be required.”

    Um, they should 100% be required. Be clear with your communication and expectation so there is no issue for those that need to enforce at the sites.

    1. David, they are indeed required. It was a simple misunderstanding on my part when putting this story together rather quickly—it has been updated. Thanks for your input!

    1. Could you please provide a source for your claim? If you look at countries with strict mask requirements, they seem to have lower infection rates. I haven’t heard of any country providing citizens with personally fitted N95 masks. Are you aware of any that are?

    2. Michelle, I agree with William. What you say goes against what medical experts are saying. Please share your scientific findings. I’m sure it will be fascinating.

    3. better yet let Wesley share his findings on what is the right thing to do. the guy is obviously the smartest guy ever.

      please enlighten us Wesley. SHOW ME THE NUMBERS!!

    4. No Dustin, you can just start watching White House Coronavirus briefings. You could also ask your doctor. I don’t claim to be a medical expert, I’m just asking Michelle for evidence to support her claim. Why are you so triggered by me?

    1. Here are a couple, recent, and WHO in October 2019:

      Our results suggest that the recommendation to wear a surgical mask when outside the home among others did not reduce, at conventional levels of statistical significance, the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in mask wearers in a setting where social distancing and other public health measures were in effect, mask recommendations were not among those measures, and community use of masks was uncommon.

      Ten RCTs were included in the meta-analysis, and there was no evidence that face
      masks are effective in reducing transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.

    2. “Dr. Tom Frieden, former Director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wrote a response to the study that was also published in Annals of Internal Medicine. In it, he pointed out that among other limitations, the study authors used antibody tests to diagnose cases of Covid-19 which could have led to a significant number of false positives. In addition, the authors did not make an effort to ensure that people who were told to wear masks wore them correctly, or at all times.”

      “Multiple studies have found that mask wearing has a big impact on Covid-19, including one in October which found areas in Tennessee with mask mandates had lower hospitalization rates than areas that don’t.”

      Yes, I’ve reached the point I just copy/paste from mask articles. It’s ponderous.

      And from your article on masks and the flu:

      “Knowledge gaps: There are important gaps in our knowledge of the mechanisms of person- to-person transmission of influenza, including the importance of transmission through droplets of different sizes including small particle aerosols, and the potential for droplet
      and aerosol transmission to occur in different locations and with different environmental conditions. Additional high-quality RCTs of the efficacy of face masks against laboratory- confirmed influenza would be valuable.”

      It’s pretty obvious that whatever has been done for COVID sure wiped the flu out this year. What will take science some time to figure out is which should be recommended for future years, and which ones of those that society will be amenable to do in the future of their own volition during flu season.

  2. There apparently isn’t any considerations given to those who have received the vaccination shots who could be in attendance? Twenty five percent is better than zero but thought we were nearing Herd Immunity and the infection and hospitalization and deaths rates are declining, no? Let’s open it up to the same percentage for those attending as we do of someone actually being hospitalized or dyeing from Covid – aren’t we still at about a 99.8% survival rate? Personally I have no antibodies, I’ve been exposed multiple times and tested negative every time, and am next in line for being vaccinated but think it’s being overly cautious with all of the protective measures we take in wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing to only be at 25% in such large venues. I don’t think the numbers don’t justify the shutdowns, 25% attendance or closed schools and restaurants, etc., but I’m sure we’ll see how many agree or still think the sky is still falling! If you do, stay home and quarantine while others can take precautions to live our lives as safely as we can and not live in fear for something that 99.8% of the time won’t kill you. Food for thought…

    1. You personally may not be at risk, but it’s too late to tell those who lost their lives. There are almost 90% of Americans who haven’t been vaccinated, so no, not close to herd immunity. Remember, this isn’t about you, it’s about EVERYONE.

    2. The priority should be the families of the players and then maybe the general public after that. Glad those folks are being taken care of in the ticket distribution.

      Congrats on being lucky. I know two long haulers and none of them seem to share your opinions. Even my daughter who had the virus and bounced back after two days is playing sports in a mask … she’s in no hurry to get reinfected by a variant.

      This would all be done by the 4th of July if people would listen to the scientists (and understand that science is always learning) instead of the garbage they get on conservative media or Facebook from people who spread nonsense.

    3. I believe scientists are saying we need to have 75% of the country vaccinated before we achieve herd immunity, so you’ll be waiting a while for everything to be normal again.

  3. Having worked in Hospitals in Northern Indiana and having had to pass their training and requirements, I can tell you two things.
    1. N95 masks have a valve in them that protects the user “slightly” more than a typical surgical mask like you get at the store but they expel your breath or whatever right back through the valve, which you will see on the front of these masks. They were designed for use in light construction where there might be particulate matter that could be breathed in. Not a good situation if one is trying to prevent transmission of any bacteria or virus.
    2. The typical surgical masks (which are required to be changed about every two hours) are primarily to protect patients or “other people” and are designed just for that and offer minimal protection to the person wearing it. The CDC said this back in April of last year before being “re-directed.”
    Any virus, COVID or otherwise is so small that surgical masks, even if you wear two or three, are, scale wise like trying to keep out insects with a chain-link fence. Scientists and the medical profession knows it. If you doubt me, take a look (if you can) at a surgical team operating on someone that is suffering from highly contagious disease. They look like space suits; not surgical masks and NEVER N95 masks.

  4. It would be great if the health department would also put the same amount of effort they did in allowing fans at the NCAA games into allowing our arts organizations the same courtesy. Many arts organizations have applied several times to be allowed 25% capacity with little to no response from the health department. And when they did respond it was too late to move forward with a play, show or concert. Guess they are only interested in how many big dollars they can pull into the city coffers and not at all worried about the arts culture dwindling in our city.