Michigan fans cheer after winning the game against Loyola.
Michigan fans cheer after winning the game against Loyola during the Final Four tournament in San Antonio in 2018. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

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The NCAA announced Friday it will allow up to 17% capacity for fans to attend select games during the upcoming women’s basketball tournament based in San Antonio.

Fans will be allowed to attend the Final Four games, taking place on April 2 and 4 at the Alamodome. They will also be able to attend the round-of-16 games played March 27-28 and the round-of-eight games held March 29-30.

Although a specific number for the allowed attendance at the Alamodome was not immediately available, the sellout crowd for the semifinals of the 2018 men’s Final Four totaled 68,257. Given that figure, 17% represents slightly more than 11,600 fans.

The decision to limit capacity while requiring masks and physical distancing was made in conjunction with local health authorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are looking forward to the return of the championship as well as limited fan attendance to what will be a unique and unforgettable event,” said Lynn Holzman, NCAA vice president of women’s basketball.

A final decision on attendance will be made by city officials as they assess the severity of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

“It is up to the City whether there will be fans, and that decision, which be based on local health conditions, won’t be made for several weeks,” said Jeff Coyle, the city’s director of government and public affairs.

Attendance for first- and second-round games will be limited to team players and guests. Each member of a team travel party, officially set at 34 members, is allowed to bring up to six guests. Those games are taking place in San Antonio, San Marcos, and Austin.

The 17% building capacity allowed during the Final Four and other games includes players, coaches, family members, essential staff, and others in addition to fans.

The NCAA also announced that ABC is scheduled to broadcast at least six tournament games in addition to ESPN’s coverage. It is the first time since 1995 that the women’s championship will be carried by a broadcast network.

The tournament also marks the first time that the entirety of the women’s basketball championship will be held in one place – an event expected to be a boon for tourism revenue in downtown San Antonio.

The tournament, normally spread across the country, was consolidated to the San Antonio area to limit travel and simplify logistics amid the coronavirus pandemic. San Antonio was previously slated to host just the Final Four games.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the tournament will be “built on a foundation of public health and safety.”

This article has been updated to clarify that city officials will determine attendance guidelines for tournament games.

Waylon Cunningham covered business and technology for the San Antonio Report.