PHOENIX - Fans, businesses and workers in various parts of the Valley are reacting to the COVID-19 coronavirus' impact on various cultural and sporting events.
Spring Training Cancellation Leaves Fans Disappointed
Baseball fans in the Valley are disappointed over the cancellation of Spring Training.
Earlier on Thursday, officials with Major League Baseball announced they will postpone opening day for the 2020 baseball season for at least two weeks, as well as cancelling spring training exhibitions because of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
A handful of games were played in Florida while the slate of Arizona exhibitions was rained out. A night game between Baltimore and Minnesota in Fort Myers, Florida, was canceled after MLB’s announcement.
According to a statement, released by MLB officials, the action is being taken "in the interests of the safety and well-being of our members, Clubs and our millions of loyal fans."
"I'm just disappointed because I just wanted to come out and catch a home run ball and get some autographs and tossups, but I can't do that now," said one person, identified only as "Connor."
"We thought it was going to get canceled but then it wasn't, so we came over here, and then they said it was cancelled on the TV at the restaurant nearby. Everyone was devastated. We were next to a family that drove five hours to get here. Everyone was so sad," said one person, identified only as "Landon."
Many fans, however, say the league made the right move.
"Certainly not shocked, because we've seen NBA announce yesterday that they were suspending, so we're not shocked," said one person, identified only as "Jessica." "We are anxious to know when baseball will come back up, and I think that's the unknown right now."
Downtown Phoenix Businesses, Workers Worry Over Losses
Downtown Phoenix is home to NBA team Phoenix Suns. Officials with the pro basketball league announced on Wednesday that they will suspend the current season "until further notice", after a Utah Jazz player tested positive Wednesday for the coronavirus. The m, a move that came only hours after the majority of the league’s owners were leaning toward playing games without fans in arenas.
"Everyone's talking about NCAA and NBA. I feel like everything is in jeopardy right now. It's kind of shocking," said Varun Jatarajan. Jatarajan was also referring to a decision made by NCAA to cancel the annual college basketball tournaments.
Talking Stick Resort Arena has an economic impact of about $180m a year, and the Phoenix Suns are a major part of that. No one knows what will happen next. Businesses may go under, and workers might get laid off.
"I didn't think I'd live to see the day for a lot of things, but this is one of the days that I'm pretty shocked by," said Marcos Aragon, who is a waiter at a restaurant near the arena. "Worst fears means lack of customers, means lack of money that goes in my pocket. Everybody's pocket."
"It hurts our business dramatically," said RJ Price with Downtown Phoenix Inc. "What is that number, I don't know, but what I do know is that we will have to work real hard to get people back Downtown."
The only thing that seems certain now is that things will get worse before they get better.
Italian Festival Postponed
Besides sporting events, other events are also impacted by the pandemic, with the Italian Festival, originally scheduled to take place from March 14 to March 15 in Downtown Phoenix, now cancelled.
"Cancelling an event that takes months, almost a year to prepare for is hard, but we know in our hearts we did the right thing for the community," said Frank Guzzo with the Italian Association of Arizona.
Guzzo, who was born in Southern Italy, still has family members there, and currently, they are under lockdown.
"My dad is 91. He's fortunately in better health than my mother. My dad goes out, but he's gotta wear the face mask," said Guzzo.
Guzzo claims an alternative date has been set up for the Italian Festival in Phoenix.
"We actually came up with a date of October 17 and 18, where we will hopefully be right here again," said Guzzo.
Luke Days 2020 Cancelled
Luke Air Force Base announced Friday its Luke Days 2020 Airshow that was scheduled for March 21-22 has been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.