The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced this afternoon that it will not allow fans other than essential staff and limited family members at the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments because of the coronavirus.
It’s big hit for Greensboro, since the first two rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Friday, March 20 and Sunday, March 22 are going to be played at the Greensboro Coliseum. But instead of being played in front of 20,000 or so fans, they will be played in a nearly empty Coliseum.
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “The NCAA has a large footprint to contend with and we respect its decision.”
Vaughan said, “I can’t tell you what the economic impact of not having fans will be. But there will still be some positives, by virtue of it being played in Greensboro. The broadcast will still be from Greensboro.”
She said that the hotels and restaurants would not have the positive impact of having the fans come to Greensboro but added that because of this hopefully the NCAA will move the cities that are hosting games this year to the top of the list for future tournaments.
She said, “Maybe we’ll be in the rotation next time.”
Vaughan also said that to her knowledge there were no changes planned to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Men’s Basketball Tournament currently being played at the Greensboro Coliseum. She said, “The ACC is working closely with the Coliseum, the governor’s office, health officials and Guilford County Emergency Management. We have gone the extra mile making sure that the Coliseum is clean. Ultimately it is the ACC’s decision but we are doing everything in our power working with them to make sure the venue is in good shape.”
Vaughan said that she and her whole family had been out to the ACC tournament. She said that Tuesday, March 10 was the largest first day audience ever for the ACC Tournament and congratulated all those involved, while noting that having Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill both playing was a big factor in the crowd size.
Downtown Greensboro Inc. has two downtown events scheduled to celebrate the ACC Tournament being in town the Downtown Watch Party on Thursday, March 12 and the Downtown Tournament Town Street Festival on Saturday, March 14. Both of those events are planned to take place as scheduled.