Detroit — The NCAA's swift and stunning ban on fans for all upcoming championship events will be felt far and wide, including in Detroit.
The Frozen Four, made up of the semifinals and championship for Division I hockey, will be played with no spectators, outside of family members, at Little Caesars Arena on April 9 and 11, an NCAA spokesperson confirmed to The News on Wednesday night.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said all of the NCAA's "upcoming championship events, including Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments," will be conducted with only essential staff and limited family allowed to attend.
There was no immediate timetable given on how long the NCAA fan ban would last, and questions arose locally, with the Frozen Four still nearly a month out. The Detroit Sports Commission, which is co-hosting the Frozen Four with Michigan State, referred questions to the NCAA. An MSU spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The NCAA and the Detroit Sports Commission still were selling Frozen Four tickets on their websites as of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, a day after Little Caesars food and beverage service employees were told by management to expect numerous cancellations in the coming weeks.
The Detroit Sports Commission had grand plans for fans at the Frozen Four, including an outdoor festival in the plaza at LCA. Detroit has hosted the Frozen Four six previous times, in 1977 and 1979 at Olympia Stadium; 1985, 1987 and 1990 at Joe Louis Arena; and 2010 at Ford Field.
Other NCAA championships scheduled for Michigan in the coming weeks including women's bowling (April 10-11, Allen Park), men's and women's fencing (March 19-22, Detroit Mercy) and men's gymnastics (April 17-18, Ann Arbor). Detroit Mercy said the fencing championships are part of the fan ban. Michigan said Wednesday that no decision has been made about gymnastics.
Those three events, of course, have limited fan attendance compared to the NCAA basketball and hockey tournaments, and mostly are attended by family members.