If you want to attend the State Boys Basketball Tournament at Cool Insuring Arena in March, you’ll have to be vaccinated or have a negative COVID test.
The New York Public High School Athletic Association announced on Tuesday that state tournaments in boys basketball and wrestling will be subject to the state’s vaccination requirements for large-scale indoor events. Attendance for those tournaments can exceed 5,000 spectators per day, which is the point at which New York state requires proof of vaccination or a COVID test.
The State Boys Basketball Tournament was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic, the only years since 1981 when Glens Falls hasn’t hosted a state tournament in March. Local organizers have continued to plan for the tournament’s return throughout the pandemic.
The state returned to playing state championships with the fall 2021 season, including the State Girls Volleyball Tournament at Cool Insuring Arena. Since then, the omicron variant has caused a spike in coronavirus infections.
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Nonetheless, the high school winter sport season has forged ahead. Some leagues and schools are limiting attendance and COVID positives have forced the postponement of many events, but there’s been no indication that sectional or state tournaments are in danger.
“Do the numbers concern me? Of course they do, but we’re hoping with guidance in place, we’re moving in the right direction,” said Chip Corlew, the Glens Falls athletic director who is director of the State Boys Basketball Tournament. “Whatever we have to do to keep people safe, we’re going to do it. Hopefully everything goes smoothly and we’re able to jump the ball on the first day.”
The State Wrestling Tournament is set for Feb. 25-26 at the MVP Arena in Albany, formerly known as the Times Union Center. The State Boys Basketball Tournament is scheduled for March 18-20 in Glens Falls. Both will require proof of full vaccination or a negative PCR test within the past 72 hours for anyone 5 years old and up.
The NYSPHSAA said it is working with both sites in an effort to provide on-site testing.
“Last year, we weren’t playing at all, so if this is what it takes to have states this year, we’ll do it,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, executive director of the NYSPHSAA. “We’ll do everything we can to continue to provide opportunities for student-athletes to play.”
The State Girls Basketball Tournament in Troy is not affected by Tuesday’s announcement because that tournament generally does not surpass 5,000 attendees per day.
This will be the first-large scale event for which Cool Insuring Arena has had to screen for vaccinations. General Manager Jeff Mead said the building would be ready to handle it.
Attendance is capped at 4,999 for Adirondack Thunder hockey games, keeping the building under the state mandate limit for hockey games. Mead said that cap is likely to be used for sectional basketball games to avoid vaccine requirements.
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