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Mountain West basketball tournaments will be held without fans

Thomas and Mack Center
Thomas and Mack Center will host a fan-less Mountain West Tournament next month. (File)

The Mountain West men's and women's basketball tournaments will be held without fans, the conference announced Monday afternoon.

The MW said after "thorough consideration of all factors and alternatives," it determined it was unable to accommodate fans for the tournaments, which will run March 7-13 at Las Vegas' Thomas & Mack Center. The MW said it is sensitive to the desire to allow family and friends of the athletes and coaches as well as additional fans, but the "overriding factor" was the health and well-being of the tournament participants.

"Given new information regarding variants of the coronavirus and the uncertainties involved, this is the most prudent course of action to mitigate risk to the most significant degree possible," the MW said.

The conference will restrict entry to the Thomas & Mack Center to participating teams, game officials, tournament staff, TV partners, limited credentialed media and other support personnel included on the team’s official pass list.

“The support of our fans has made the Mountain West Tournament one of the most thrilling events in college basketball on an annual basis,” Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said in a news release. “The health and well-being of our student-athletes and coaches are of vital importance. We are best able to provide a clean and controlled environment by only permitting those directly involved with the tournament’s conduct into the facility. It is also essential to protect the opportunity for those teams who are successful in advancing to compete in the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships according to the protocols established for those events.”

Per Nevada COVID-19 regulations, venues with at least 2,500 fixed seats can host up to 20 percent capacity for events. With Thomas & Mack's capacity of 17,923 seats, that would have allowed for almost 3,600 fans per game. However, the MW would have had to submit a large gathering plan to the local health authority for review. It would have required approval from the Clark County Health District, met all local public health standards and not place an unacceptable burden on the local public health infrastructure.

In addition to approval from the local health district, the event also must:

* Establish groupings of individuals or “Sections”;"

* Social distancing can be maintained;

* “Standing room only” is prohibited. All individuals must be seated in fixed, assigned seating;

* Pre-registration, reservations and/or ticketing is required. General admission is prohibited;

* General admission, walk-ins, impromptu purchases, and will-call on the day of the event is prohibited

* Will-call may be open for individuals to pick up their tickets prior to the actual day of the gathering. Will-call is prohibited on the day of gathering to avoid congestion.

The Mountain West Network will live stream every women’s game from the tournament beginning on March 7. On March 10, the championship final will be televised on CBS Sports Network. The men’s first-round contests begin March 10 and will be lived streamed on the Mountain West Network. CBS Sports Network will televise the quarterfinal and semifinals while the men’s championship final will air on CBS on March 13.

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