The Mid-American Conference announced Tuesday that both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland will be closed to the general public amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
The women’s tournament will begin Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. while the men’s tournament will start Thursday at noon. Both tournaments will conclude Saturday, but the conference has implemented a restricted attendance policy. Only credentialed institutional personnel, student-athlete family members, credentialed media, television and radio crews and official team party members will be permitted into the arena.
“The safety of all is our greatest concern,“ said MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher in a statement released on the conference website. “Since January, I have stated that any decision would follow the advice of state governmental officials and medical professionals.”
The announcement came hours after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called for all indoor athletic events in the state to continue without spectators.
The move came one day after DeWine announced that three Ohioans from Cuyahoga County tested positive for coronavirus. The Ohio Department of Health said Tuesday that 15 people are being tested for coronavirus in the state.
The MAC announced that all tickets purchased for the tournament will be refunded as either credit toward next year’s tournament or with a full refund.
Ohio’s athletic department, however, said in a statement Tuesday that any tickets purchased directly though its ticket office will be automatically refunded.
Ohio men’s basketball attendance was third in the MAC and averaged 4,292 spectators per home game. Ohio women’s basketball was 10th in the MAC and averaged 654 people per home game.
The women’s team will begin the tournament Wednesday at noon against Western Michigan while the men’s team will play its second game of the tournament against Akron on Thursday at noon. Both games can be watched on ESPN+.