Another event could be off Charleston’s calendar.
The Basketball Tournament — the $2 million winner-take-all tournament filled with alumni teams from major universities, including West Virginia — announced Wednesday morning that it would condense its format from nine regional sites to one central location due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. That includes the Charleston Coliseum, which was scheduled to hold tournament games July 24-26 with a field that included Best Virginia, a WVU alumni team.
The tournament location, which will host 23 games over 10 days, will be announced at a later date. Those who have purchased tickets for the regional sites will be fully refunded.
Tim Brady, CEO of the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau said Wednesday that the city has sent a proposal to the TBT to host the tournament and that proposal was still under consideration as of Wednesday morning.
“They’re still trying to put together the best plan possible,” Brady said. “I won’t be upset if they choose another destination. I’ll be sad that we’re not hosting it, but I totally respect the decision that they have to make. They’re making the best decision for them and their athletes.”
The revised format, tournament organizers said, was created in consultation with heath experts, epidemiologists and TBT participants. Among the advisors were Tara Kirk Sell from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Dr. Thomas Hospel, medical director for the PGA Tour.
“After reviewing all available science and data, working with experts, and receiving support from our partners, we’ve devised a plan we are confident protects the health and safety of our participants and staff to the greatest extent possible,” TBT CEO Jon Mugar said in a news release. “At the forefront is our single-elimination format, ability to test and quarantine the field and keep teams separate at all times. We look forward to hosting an incredible group of teams and crowning a champion this summer.”
Among the health protocols:
- All participants will be tested for COVID-19 when they arrive to the tournament site. Any positive test will disqualify both the player and his team.
- Teams will be kept separate at all times in quarantine and screened regularly for symptoms.
- All participants will be tested again after the quarantine period. A positive result on this second test will disqualify both the player and the team.
- Teams that have tested negative will be cleared to participate, and individuals will continue to be screened daily for symptoms.
- All players will undergo an exit screening by local health officials.
Consolidating the tournament to one site also consolidates the size of the field. The TBT will announce in June a 24-team field. More than 100 teams have applied, not only Best Virginia, but Herd That, a Marshall alumni team that includes Charleston native and Marshall career scoring leader Jon Elmore.
No announcements have yet been made on any guaranteed participants, but the TBT release did mention Best Virginia by name as one of the “high-profile” alumni teams who have entered, and their spot in the Charleston regional already was set.
Brady heard the tournament was moving toward the one-site format a few weeks ago, but figured the official announcement didn’t come until Wednesday because the TBT was doing its due diligence. Even if Charleston isn’t a host site this year, Brady isn’t looking at this negatively.
“We’ve developed a great relationship with TBT,” Brady said. “I feel very confident that when they’re able to resume their regular format, Charleston will be one of their host cities for regionals in 2021 or 2022, whenever it happens.
“We’ve developed a really great relationship with a really great international brand,” he added. “And they like Charleston a lot. They saw immediately the enthusiasm for the product and the way the community got really excited and embraced the concept of hosting TBT. They also appreciated the facility and the folks that they’ve been working with here in Charleston.”