Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Montana Basketball Tournaments Carry On Despite Coronavirus Concerns

First Interstate Bank Arena at Metra Park.
Kay Erikson
Yellowstone Public Radio
Concerns over coronavirus spreading did not stop Montanans from attending the Southern B Divisional girls and boys basketball tournament on Mar. 6 2020.

As more novel coronavirus cases are detected around the country, many large events like South By Southwest in Austin, Texas are being cancelled. 

But concern over the COVID-19 took a backseat to basketball this weekend at a well-attended tournament at Metrapark in Billings. It did not worry Billings resident Dan Brocklebank and his family.

"Not worried at all," Brocklebank says.

Neither is Kyree Bigback from Lame Deer.

"I went to Los Angeles last week and I didn’t really have that much concern either except for when people were wearing those masks and that started to scare me," Bigback says.

The Brocklebanks and Bigback were among the nearly 12,000 fans who crowded into First Interstate Bank Arena at Metrapark to watch the Southern B Divisional girls and boys basketball tournament.

Attendance was also brisk elsewhere on the Metrapark campus for the 37th annual Spring Home Improvement Show, said show organizer Mark Hedin.

"I don’t think for the majority of Montanans that it’s a real concern yet," Hedin says.

Keeping people safe anywhere at Metrapark is always a concern, said Marketing Director Ray Massie.

"We understand exactly what it is that we need to do from the standpoint of keeping people safe. We face bugs of some nature all the time. With 700,000 that come through here on average, we have a lot of interpersonal activity that goes on," Massie says.

The cheers from the fans at Southern B Divisionals are just a memory but coming up fast at the Metrapark Arena, State A Combined Boys and Girls tournament March 12 through 14 when Massie expects record attendance with three local boys and girls teams in the tourney. That’s followed by the NAIA Womens Division I National Championships March 18 through 24 with teams and fans from around the country.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend regular hand washing, coughing into your elbow or tissue and staying home if you’re feeling sick.

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.