LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) -- Never before has the Nebraska Boys State Basketball Tournament been played without fans. But that's the way it started beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Only immediate family has been allowed into the Pinnacle Bank Arena for the Boys State Tournament — and they have to sit in seats, according to security, surrounded by yellow tape. Apparently, those are the seats that were cleaned after last night's concert here that was not cancelled — it went on as scheduled.
From a fan's perspective, seeing thousands of empty seats for high school basketball state championships seems odd.
"The cheering is a little bleak, but we’re trying,” said Nancy Meduna, a Mt. Michael mom.
For the players, it's not any less strange. Look around, and what do you see?
"Nobody," said Brad Bennett of Mt. Michael. "Family, and that’s it. It was weird."
“We could have either played it or not at all so to do it with no fans, so obviously, we want to play,” said Kyle Pelan of Mt. Michael.
"After the kid from Crofton got sick, I understand why they had to do it," Mt. Michael student Madison Meduna said. "It kind of stinks. It’s for our safety."
Even with first-round games in, many wonder whether the state tourney could still shut down before it’s over.
"I didn’t worry except for every moment of the day and every minute," Mt. Michael Coach Derrick Spooner said. "I just wanted our guys to get here and get the opportunity. I’m so thankful we’re getting a chance to do that."
Meanwhile, the teams will take what they can get.
“I think this is the best-case scenario, where they allowed limited fans in and did their best with what they had," said Julie Lausterer, a Wahoo mom. "I feel bad for the City of Lincoln and all the businesses who are losing money over the weekend.”
There's still two more games scheduled here for tonight, and after the game, fans are told to exit the arena so that immediate family of the next teams can be seated.