Ohio governor asks for basketball games to be played in empty arenas

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Starting tonight (Tuesday), the Cavaliers start a two-week, six-game road trip that equals their longest of the season.

When they return to Cleveland March 24 to face Sacramento, will they be playing in an empty building devoid of fans?

In the wake of three people testing positive for the virus in Ohio — the first three confirmed cases in the state — governor Mike DeWine requested a number of steps to limit exposure and the spread of the disease, such as colleges hosting classes remotely. Among DeWide’s requests was for there to be no mass indoor gatherings to watch sporting events.

The Cavaliers have yet to respond to the Governor’s request (and this remains something asked not ordered). Because of the timing, they are not under pressure to do so immediately.

In the short term, the Governor’s position is a bigger concern for the NCAA. The University of Dayton is the traditional home of the First Four part of the NCAA Tournament, and the Quicken Loans Arena is scheduled to host games the opening weekend of the tournament.

The idea of playing games in front of empty buildings is at least being discussed around the NBA and will be one topic in a call between team officials and the league office on Friday. While there has been pushback on the idea from some quarters, even LeBron James has come around to the idea it might happen. The league has already moved to close locker rooms on game day.

In the United States, there have been more than 700 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and 27 deaths. Worldwide, more than 112,000 people have tested positive with more than 3,900 deaths attributed to the virus.