The Big West Conference on Tuesday announced that all games in the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would be played without fans, amid concerns about spreading the coronavirus. This includes games at Honda Center on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, just across the 57 freeway from Angel Stadium.
What that means for potential Angels games remains to be seen. On Monday, the MLB barred reporters and non-essential personnel from clubhouses, but no exhibition nor regular season games have been affected.
“We are continuing to monitor developments and will adjust as necessary,” the MLB said in a statement. “While MLB recognizes the fluidity of this rapidly evolving situation, our current intention is to play Spring Training and regular season games as scheduled.”
The situation is indeed evolving, with over 700 confirmed coronavirus cases and 26 deaths nationwide through Monday.
In Orange County through Monday there were five confirmed cases, though the Department of Health maintains the risk of infection to the public is “believed to be low.” The CDC recommends that adults 60 and older, and people with serious medical conditions should “avoid crowds as much as possible.”
The Big West took a further step.
“The Big West Board of Directors, comprised of the chief executive officers of the nine member universities, strongly feel that this is a prudent way to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus while being sensitive to our student-athletes who have pointed towards playing in the tournament all season,” said Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell. “Many of our institutions are developing plans to minimize the interaction of individuals on their campuses that could include the downsizing of events.”
The MAC took the same approach, barring fans from their basketball tournament in Cleveland, but the Big West is relevant locally given their proximity to Angel Stadium.
The Angels play in Anaheim on March 22 against the Dodgers, in the opener of their annual Freeway Series exhibition. As of now, that game is still expected to go as planned. But as we’ve seen, if coronavirus continues to spread, plans can change fairly quickly.