WENATCHEE — Prep basketball set for the Town Toyota Center has been shifted to Wenatchee High School to reduce attendance and avoid a potential super spreader event.
The Eastmont and Wenatchee’s boys and girls squads were originally scheduled to take the court this evening in the arena which seats 4,300. Russ Waterman, Eastmont’s athletic director, said Chelan-Douglas Health District officials voiced concern over the spreading omicron variant.
“We decided it would be more logical to manage by reducing the amount of people that would be able to come in as spectators to under a thousand,” Waterman said. “And then that would be easier to manage at our own facilities since we’ve been doing this for two years.”
Both districts will seat less than 1,000 spectators at events for the next two weeks, including Tuesday’s game. Jim Beeson, Wenatchee’s athletic director, said he will also propose swim meets return to no spectators.
“We’ll monitor as we go for two weeks,” Waterman said. “And then, you know if things are looking good, we’ll go back to what we were doing here. I think this is just kind of a proactive way to minimize risk.”
Luke Davies, health district administrator, said the intent is to keep schools open. With the potential for increased attendance at the Town Toyota Center, Davis said managing spectators at the venue could have been a challenge.
“One of our big concerns is, with how infectious omicron is, we wanted to make sure that any event that’s being held by schools or large event places are doing the best they can to mitigate those risks and reduce transmission,” Davies said. “We’re working really hard to try and not add fuel to the fire.”
Beeson said it can be challenging to be the “mask police” at sporting events. While students are likely to comply, some are less likely to comply.
“We’re going to encourage groups that aren’t from the same household to socially distance and move forward from there,” Beeson said. “We haven’t had any big outbreaks that can be related back to what we’re doing currently, so that’s a positive thing.”
Waterman asked community members who can’t comply with masking and social distancing requirements to watch broadcasts of the games.
The initial plan was to move to Eastmont before ultimately deciding to play at Wenatchee. Both athletic directors said makeup games at the arena are unlikely this season.