Basketball tournament in Charleston canceled, affecting businesses

Published: Mar. 12, 2020 at 11:01 PM EDT
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With still no confirmed cases of coronavirus in West Virginia there are no plans for school closures. However, officials say that could change, they are monitoring the situation day by day. But even though school is still in session, another extra circular activity is being suspended.

On Thursday West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced the suspension of the state basketball tournament.

"Those kids have worked really hard, all year long," Justice said. "I surely know what our state basketball tournament means to us."

Justice said the reason is to make sure people avoid being in large crowds. He is not banning large crowds but highly discouraging them.

"I hate it because it's important to the state of West Virginia, it's important to this great city of Charleston (and) it's important to all those kids," Justice said. "But in all honesty, we got to protect our people first and foremost."

Justice says that in the future they may be able to have teams play at a different location or limit the number of fans. But for now, he says it's best to just suspend the tournament as a whole.

Charleston City Manager Jonathan Storage also announced Thursday that all events with more than 250 people at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center will be canceled for the next 30 days due to the COVID-19 threat.

Nearby businesses in Charleston say all the cancellations are not helpful to their profits.

"I think the lack of business is definitely part of the scare with what's going on right now," said Ross Salway, the Bar 101 manager. "With everything that's been canceled recently, I think it's going to impact businesses even more."

Salway says every year the state basketball tournament and college March Madness are major profit boosters at the downtown bars and restaurants.

"You know, with a lack of that, the business won't be there," Salway told WSAZ. "You have to think about the staff and the business not making as much money either."

Salway also says while he may not be worried about the long-term effect, they're definitely seeing a drastic impact right now.

"It's a very tight-knit community downtown here. We all try to work together and help each other out and at the end of the day, if there's nobody here, there's nothing anybody can do," Salway said.

Storage says that events scheduled beyond 30 days at the Coliseum and Convention Center could possibly be affected.