Boise State winter sports remain in limbo amidst COVID-19 unknowns

The Mountain West’s postponement of fall sports has left winter sports fans wondering what is to come.

Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson addressed the state of winter sports in an interview with the MountainWest Network on Aug. 13.

“At this point, we’re still targeting a November start,” Thompson said. “Right now our plan is to start winter sports on time, but as we’ve found out in the last couple weeks and the last couple days this can change on a moment’s notice.”

The Pac-12 was the first and only conference so far to postpone all sport competition for the remainder of the year. Since then, no other conference has announced if or how they are going to alter the winter sports season.

The postponement of fall sports leaves Boise State piecing together a plan on how its sports budget will operate in the winter if the season were to happen.

Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey addressed the Boise State community in a video asking for donations to sustain sport programs.

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do. As Broncos we were built for this. It’s in our DNA and it’s who we are. Student-athletes have risen to the occasion over and over again, climbing to the top of the Mountain West each year.” Apsey said. “Now they need you more than ever and it’s time for bronco nation to take the reigns and keep leading our ascent.”

The Idaho Press reported last week that Boise State estimated a loss of $20 million with no fall football, which amounted to nearly half of the entire athletic department budget. 

Elliott Roldan, a junior and business major feels that the pros of having a winter sports season would outweigh the cons.

“I feel that we are at the point where we need sports. Losing football was bad, but losing basketball next would suck,” Roldan said. “I came to Boise in large part because of the sports. I’m really holding out hope even though I have know clue what’s going to happen. I was also really looking forward to March Madness this year, but at this point I’ll just take a basketball season.”

The first round of the 2021 March Madness bracket is scheduled to tip-off on time. Boise is one of eight host cities for the round of 64 and round of 32. The 2020 March Madness playoff was cancelled shortly before it could begin. 

March Madness would bring the top teams from across the nation to compete in ExtraMile Arena. With the event comes entertainment, fans, and economic stimulus to local businesses. 

According to Carrie Westergard, executive director for the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau Boise’s economy would lose out on a lot of money if March Madness were canceled.

“The NCAA tournament was in 2018 and it looks like it (Boise’s financial gain) was around $14.8 million. That is for the one event. In 2020, we hosted the Big Sky Conference and that estimated economic impact was nearly $1 million with the conference ending mid-conference. If both of those events were to not happen in 2021 we would be looking at over $15.5 economic impact loss.” Westergard said. “The hospitality industry, everything from hotels, restaurants, transportation, retail, bars would be most affected if these events were to not take place, especially with the hard hit the industry has received through COVID.” 

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