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Indiana University, Purdue University prepare for NCAA games

(WISH) — Purdue University and Indiana University are making sure they’re ready to welcome basketball fans for the NCAA tournament.

“This is a state that’s known for its passion for basketball,” said Indiana University Senior Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications Jeremy Gray.

On any given day Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall can fit about 17,200 people.

“One of the great cathedrals to the sport of basketball not only in the state of Indiana is Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall,” said Gray.

But because of the coronavirus, Indiana University is welcoming up to 500 people for the NCAA games. Only teams and families will attend games. A few leftover tickets will be given to first responders and medical personnel. IU adds it’s been four decades since Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall last hosted NCAA Tournament games.

“Way back in the day in fact hosted the NCAA Tournament in 1981, but from the Rolling Stones to Elvis Presley, to Barack Obama, to Lil’ Wayne, to the Harlem Globetrotters, to the Indiana Pacers we have experience hosting large events,” said Gray.

He says the NCAA basketball court will be installed on Friday. Meanwhile, at Purdue University, Mackey Arena will be welcoming fans to the tournament. They’re allowing 12 to 13% capacity at Mackey Arena.

“That will put us at just shy of 1,500 patrons and spectators here,” said Purdue University Assistant Athletics Director for Event Management Katie Egloff.

“So unfortunately not quite to that 25 percent number like some of the other venues that will be hosting,” said Egloff.

But Egloff says it’s more than they’ve had in the regular season and she says it was a hot ticket.

“There was a small number that were able to purchase tickets,” said Egloff. “I heard that ours went in like 90 seconds are something like that for the First Four.”

She says there will be new signage going up around Mackey Arena welcoming athletes to the university. She adds this tournament is lifting the spirits of their student-athletes during this difficult time.

“A lot of people have referenced it’s been a year now since a lot of these things were shut down and the uncertainty that started last March and to think how far we’ve come and to know that this is kind of our small part that we can do to provide this great opportunity for them,” said Egloff.

Games in Bloomington and West Lafayette begin Thursday, March 18. The Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium starts Saturday, April 3.