Purdue Fort Wayne Athletic Director: Community’s health more important than fans at games

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne is set to host the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Regionals and the Division III Men’s Championship at the Memorial Coliseum. The NCAA made the decision Wednesday to not allow fans to attend those games, amid COVID-19 concerns.

As the host, Purdue University Fort Wayne says it’s taking all the steps necessary to ensure the safety of student athletes when they come to town.

Purdue Fort Wayne Athletic Director Kelly Hartley Hutton says the community’s health is more important than having fans at games. She says the university is very focused on providing a first-class experience to the student athletes coming to Fort Wayne for the tournament.

On the flipside, Fort Wayne was expecting the tournament games to bring in a cash flow to the city. Visit Fort Wayne says between the men’s and women’s games, it expected a $1.2 million economic impact.

“Economics should be set aside at this point. We’re talking about public safety; we’re talking about student athlete experience that has to be shifted to focus more on them. And to your second question, no, there wasn’t any incentive money paid to the NCAA to get this tournament. It was based on our reputation at the Coliseum for holding successful other events, it was based on the fact that the community was turning out the red carpet, and our Hoosier hospitality to make this happen, which we will do to some degree for the teams, but maybe not for the fans,” says Dan O’Connell, president of Visit Fort Wayne.

The Coliseum says regarding future events, they are working with organizers to possibly roll back dates, instead of outright canceling everything.

If you did purchase a ticket to one of the NCAA games, you can click here to learn how to get a refund.

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