Cancellations and empty seats alter the Long Beach sports world

Long Beach’s vibrant sports world went from the full swing of spring to almost completely shut down in a matter of a day, with postponements, suspensions or outright cancellations of virtually all of the city’s landmark events.

High School

The Long Beach Unified School District announced that its high schools will continue to play league sporting events only, with no spectators allowed in.

“Nonleague events are canceled until after Spring Break, league games will continue, at least as of 2:09 p.m. on Thursday, when we’re having this conversation,” said Moore League secretary Lisa Ulmer. “This is a fluid situation, obviously. We want to make sure everyone is safe.”

Other districts around Southern California have canceled or suspended events, including the Los Angeles Unified School District. For now, Long Beach’s plan is to continue.

Junior College

The CCCAA, California’s organizing body for junior college sports, confirmed late Thursday evening that it is immediately suspending all spring sports, as well as canceling the state basketball tournament. There’s no word on the eligibility of sophomore athletes who’ve just had their final year of JC eligibility wiped away.

NCAA Sports

Long Beach State officials woke up Thursday morning planning for a spectator-less Big West Tournament for its men’s basketball team, and to host a spectator-less men’s volleyball match in the Walter Pyramid against UC Santa Barbara.

By the early afternoon, everything had been shut down. The Big West Tournament was canceled, then the NCAA Tournament was canceled, then the Big West Conference shut down spring sports.

“Everything is shut down immediately and indefinitely,” said LBSU athletic director Andy Fee. “All games, all practices. We will not be traveling for recruiting, either. We are in uncharted territory.”

It was chaos across the country for the Beach. The No. 12 Dirtbags landed in New Orleans to the news that their season was over and they should come home instead of preparing for this weekend’s series against Tulane. Track and field athlete Jason Smith was in New Mexico for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships and had to come home instead of competing.

“We’re still open, but the work we’re doing will be different,” Fee said. “Andy Fee might be counting hats and doing inventory for the time being, I don’t know.”

Fee said he’s not expecting a quick reversal.

“My gut says this is not ‘three weeks and back to business as usual. I wish that was the case but I don’t see it.”

Pro Sports

The biggest news of the day was the cancellation of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will mark the first time it hasn’t run in almost a half-century. Race officials are hoping to reschedule for later in the year, but that would require massive coordination with the city as well as the IndyCar series, which will have big decisions to make in the coming weeks.

The Los Angeles Wildcats, an XFL team that practices at Veterans Memorial Stadium, have also suspended their season.

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Mike and JJ go together like mac and cheese: they’re best friends, business partners and Long Beach sports experts. They’ve been working together for over a decade covering Long Beach local sports and now run the562.org, a community-funded nonprofit media outlet.
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