The tidal wave of cancellations and alterations in sports related to the coronavirus crashed hard into Independence Thursday.
Saturday’s Class 4 and 5 state quarterfinal high school basketball games scheduled to be played at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena have been moved to Blue Springs South High School after the arena announced Thursday that it was postponing all events through April 5. The decision came after Independence Mayor Eileen Weir declared a state of emergency in the city.
The Kansas City Mavericks hockey team and indoor soccer’s Kansas City Comets won’t have to find new venues. Their seasons came to an end when the ECHL announced it was suspending play indefinitely and the Major Arena Soccer League announced it was canceling the remainder of its season.
The high school basketball state quarterfinal games will now be played at Blue Springs South with only “essential personnel” in attendance, according to tournament director Greg McGhee, the activities director at William Chrisman High School. Game times will remain the same as they were for SEC Arena. The Class 5 games will be first, with the Blue Springs girls facing Liberty at 1 p.m., followed by the Raymore-Peculiar boys against Staley at approximately 2:45 p.m. In the Class 4 session, Grain Valley will meet Lincoln Prep at 6 p.m., followed by the boys game between Raytown South and St. Joseph Lafayette.
Essential personnel include 15 players, two adults, two managers, two administrators and four coaches.
McGhee said it has not been determined if media members will be allowed to cover the game.
The games were originally scheduled to play Saturday at SEC Arena, but that became impossible when Silverstein Eye Centers Arena said it was suspending public events and activities through April 5.
SEC Arena released a statement:
“Silverstein Eye Centers Arena and Independence Community Ice will suspend public events and activities through April 5, 2020 to help slow the spread of COVID‐19 in our region.
“Spectra, operators of Silverstein Eye Centers Arena and Independence Community Ice, consider the safety and well-being of our employees, business partners and guests our top priority. We will continue to follow
recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local authorities.
“The Roadshow Tour, scheduled for March 26 has been canceled. Refunds will be issued at the point of purchase.
“MercyMe (March 20), Sturgill Simpson, (April 1) and Toughest Monster Truck Tour (April 3‐4) will be rescheduled and new dates will be announced at a future time.
“Independence Community Ice will suspend all public activities through April 5, however, private rentals will continue.”
The Comets had one home game left on March 22, and was scheduled to play a pair of games in Florida on Saturday and Sunday. The Comets, who had been eliminated from playoff contention, finish with a 10-11 record.
The Mavericks had two home games remaining – March 21 and 24 against the Rapid City Rush – and 10 overall.
“As the ongoing developments regarding COVID-19 in North America continue and precautionary measures ensue to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the ECHL has suspended the 2019-20 season for the safety of our fans, players and employees,” an ECHL-issued statement read.
Brent Thiessen, the president and general manager of the Mavericks, said the ECHL made the decision for the safety of its fans, players and employees.
“I think for clarity reasons, this is the right decision,” Thiessen said. “This is unprecedented, we have never experienced anything like it. When you see college conferences canceling their spring seasons, the NHL, Major League Baseball and NCAA making their decisions, we feel like this is the right decision and the only decision to make right now.”
Mavericks team captain Rocco Carzo said he was surprised by the announcement.
“I know we play hockey, and this kind of a curveball,” Carzo said, “I just can’t believe the season ended this way. I don’t think any of us saw this coming.”
While he said other issues are more important and urgent at the moment, Thiessen did say after all these details are met with, the team will continue the search for a new head coach.
“I believe at this time,” Thiessen said, “with all the urgent issues we face now, it would be premature to talk about the search for a new coach.”
The Mavericks and the ECHL also issued a statement concerning tickets for the remainder of the season:
“The ECHL and its member teams continue to work with national and local health officials and local governance to monitor the situation. In the interim, we encourage those in the ECHL community to take precautions and stay safe during this time.
“Season ticket holders from the four remaining home games of the 2019- 20 season will be credited toward their season tickets packages for the 2020-21 season. In addition, each account (including partial season ticket holders) will be issued two bonus Buddy Pass tickets. There will be 20 eligible games during the 2020-21 season for Buddy Passes to be redeemed.
“Single game ticket buyers – if tickets were purchased through Ticketmaster, an automatic refund will be issued. If tickets were purchased through the Mavericks ticket office, you may request a ticket voucher to be used during any home game from Oct. 1-Dec. 15, 2020 by calling 816-252-7825 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by March 31, 2020.
“If tickets were purchased in-person at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena box office, return your tickets for vouchers at the box office by March 31, 2020. Ticket vouchers and/or refunds will only be issued to the original ticket purchaser and only if purchased through a Kansas City Mavericks authorized ticket seller which includes the Mavericks ticket office, the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena box office, FEVO and Ticketmaster. Consult your point of purchase if you purchased through a third-party seller.”
Comets managing partner Brian Budzinksi called player/coach Leo Gibson late Wednesday and instructed him to tell his players not to board a plane Thursday morning for the weekend’s games in Florida.
“I just felt it was the right thing to do and I did not want to have our players in Florida when so many things were up in the air,” Budzinski said. “We made the decision before the board of directors met to discuss what to do and end our season and I believe it was the right decision.”
With the Comets losing one home game, fans with tickets have several options. They can get a refund, add it as a deposit for season tickets next season or use it toward an upgrade for next season.
“I am so surprised, I never thought something like this could happen,” Gibson said. “The team is suspending all operations until Monday. Then we will have our player exit meetings, see where we stand and begin preparation for next season.
“And in the meantime, all our prayers go out to those affected and those trying to discover a treatment.”
The Kansas City Royals said in a statement that they are fully supportive of Major League Baseball’s decision to delay the start of the 2020 season. The Royals had been scheduled to open their season at home on April 2 against the Seattle Mariners after spending the first week of the season on the road at the Chicago White Sox and Detroit.
“The health and comfort of our players, staff, fans and partners are top priority for the organization,” the statement said.
The Royals are working on ticket policies for the games that will be affected.