Library’s Evening with Billie Jean King event postponed due to coronavirus concerns

The Long Beach Public Library Foundation and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative announced the indefinite postponement of the Evening with Billie Jean King event, originally scheduled for March 27, at the Billie Jean King Main Library, due to concerns over coronavirus.

“While the Long Beach Health Department has not reported any cases of COVID-19, nor have they recommended that events be canceled, we understand that many are concerned about the potential spread of the disease,” Kate Azar, executive director of the library foundation, said in a statement. “The Long Beach Public Library Foundation has an absolute commitment to the health and safety of library patrons, supporters, and staff. Therefore, in consultation with our Board, staff, and partners, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the event until further notice.

“We are grateful to all those who have supported this event and our New Main Campaign. We have reached out to all who have purchased tickets and sponsorships to offer refunds and discuss alternate opportunities to support the Library Foundation.”

Azar said the event had already generated more than $100,000 in sponsorship and ticket sales. Planned for the library named after the sports icon, the evening was going to feature a comedy set by Wanda Sykes and then a conversation between King and Willow Bay, Dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

The evening was also to have food, cocktails and a charity auction which included Lakers courtside tickets along with VIP passes to watch the Dodgers, of which King is a part-owner.

“We don’t want to be alarmists or unreasonable, but the health and safety of our patrons is important. Billie Jean is completely on board with this. She told us, ‘Hey, I’ll come out another time when things have calmed down.’ What is so great about so many of our sponsors like the Lakers and Dodgers is they told us just to keep the donation,” said Azar, who added that the sports tickets will likely be auctioned off at a subsequent event.

Azar said that though this event is being postponed another high profile event for the foundation, the Great Expectations gala scheduled for June 7, is still planned to take place.

Those with any questions regarding postponement of an Evening with Billie Jean King are asked to call the Long Beach Public Library Foundation at 562-628-2441.

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Steve Lowery began his journalism career at the Los Angeles Times, where he planned to spend his entire career. God, as usual, laughed at his plans and he has since written for the short-lived sports publication The National, the L.A. Daily News, the Press-Telegram, New Times LA, the District and the OC Weekly. He is the Arts & Culture Editor for the Post, overseeing the Hi-lo.
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