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CHSAA: No fans allowed at state tournament games; each player can have 4 guests attend

Attendance to be limited to essential team personnel only

The Brush Beetdiggers are fired up and ready to play Friday, March 6, in the first game of the 3A state tournament against Grand Valley. (Kenzie Kraich/Courtesy photo)
The Brush Beetdiggers are fired up and ready to play Friday, March 6, in the first game of the 3A state tournament against Grand Valley. (Kenzie Kraich/Courtesy photo)

The Colorado High School Activities Association announced at 7:49 p.m. Wednesday that no fans would be allowed in the gyms for the remaining state basketball tournament games, according to a news release. That later was amended to allow for each player to have a maximum of four guests attend a game.

“Over the course of the past week, our office communicated consistently said that our plan is to hold our state championships events without changes unless directed otherwise by a state agency or facility administration,” the release stated.

On Wednesday night, Gov. Jared Polis announced that the state wants large public gatherings, including sporting events, “to establish protocols where they can establish safe spacing at events” to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

After the press conference, CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green consulted with state educational and health departments, and they advised a higher standard of risk minimization than originally communicated with the additional cases that have been reported in Colorado over the last 24 hours, the release stated.

“Logistically — and with the state tournaments set to begin in less than 13 hours — this goal of social spacing is beyond the scope of our host facilities. In addition, at least one of our venues has indicated that we would not be able to host games with fans in attendance for the bulk of the tournament. Therefore, we are making the difficult decision to limit attendance to essential team personnel only, without fans in attendance. Essential personnel means only those who have been submitted on the official CHSAA gate list by schools will be able to enter the venue. No spirit teams or bands will be permitted entry. Media will be permitted to attend, if they have a CHSAA-issued pass,” the release stated.

CHSAA amended that decision later Wednesday night with the following: “In response to several inquiries from family members of participants, each player will be allowed to have a maximum of four guests attend games. CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann will be communicating directly with schools on instructions of how those guests will enter the venues, and how things will operate within the venue.”

CHSAA said that games in all classifications will be available on the NFHS Network this weekend, meaning fans will not have to miss out on the tournament. Additionally, will be providing live coverage of the games.

The decision is being made based upon recommendations by health officials in all areas, and follows decisions made by neighboring states, and the NCAA, including their postseason events being held in Colorado, according to the release.

“While this decision is a difficult one, we do want the students who have worked so hard to be able to have a culminating event that reflects the commitment they have made throughout the season,” Blanford-Green said.

“We knew that this was an evolving situation, and our goal was to have a tournament that goes on without interruption,” Blanford-Green said. “But circumstances have changed with this pandemic, and the focus must now be on how we give the kids the experience of a state champ event.”

A refund policy for tickets purchased will be communicated on Thursday.

CHSAA said it will continue to monitor this situation closely, and provide updates if necessary.

“We continue to support our member schools and school districts, and the local decisions they are making in the best interest of their students and communities,” the release stated.

During his press conference, Gov. Polis stressed the need for community help in combating the virus.

“I know that many Coloradoans are upset, frustrated and, in fact, scared,” Polis said. “Some are disappointed that your conference or your graduations or your gatherings are cancelled … and those are normal feelings. We all understand that, and we all share that. But we need you to be part of working with us of doing everything we can at the state level to respond to this virus, and to reduce the trajectory of its spread.”