MotoGP Grand Prix postponed amid coronavirus concerns; UT still working on plan for large events

Mayor Steve Adler speaks to media during a press conference at Austin City Hall on March 6 announcing an emergency order effectively canceling South by Southwest Conference and Festivals. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mayor Steve Adler speaks to media during a press conference at Austin City Hall on March 6 announcing an emergency order effectively canceling South by Southwest Conference and Festivals. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Mayor Steve Adler speaks to media during a press conference at Austin City Hall on March 6 announcing an emergency order effectively canceling South by Southwest Conference and Festivals. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Update: 4:22 p.m.

The University of Texas is still working on a plan for how it will handle large events, and specific details will be available in the next few days, spokesman J.B. Bird said.

“Note that under the City of Austin guidelines, there are mitigating factors that allow for proceeding with events that have audiences over 2,500,” Bird said. “UT is developing guidelines that will have much in common with the city guidelines, and that will focus on prioritizing the health of our community—the UT community and the wider community seeking to attend events.”

The Frank C. Erwin Center, which frequently hosts concerts throughout the year and UT basketball home games, seats nearly 17,000. Upcoming events include a Post Malone concert Tuesday night, Michael Buble in April and Tame Impala in July. There are currently no home games scheduled for either the men’s or women’s basketball teams for the rest of this season as both teams prepare for the Big 12 basketball tournament this week in Kansas City.

UFCU Disch-Falk Field, the baseball stadium, seats just over 6,500 people. The team has 21 home games left during the regular season, which ends May 12, according to the team’s online schedule.

Original Story

The Circuit of the Americas postponed the MotoGP Grand Prix until Nov. 13-15 just days after the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals were canceled.

“With the disruption of international flights serving areas that are home to many teams, fans, freight and competitors, the MotoGP Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas has been postponed,” COTA said in a statement on Twitter. “We are glad that there are no cases of the virus in Austin and recognize that the risks of getting sick are very low; however, an international event of this sort presents logistics concerns, travel commitments and significant advance planning.”

Originally scheduled for the first weekend of April, the Grand Prix is the latest major event cancellation in Austin. All tickets bought for the race next month will still be valid in November, COTA said. Anyone who needs a refund, though, will be given one.

On March 6, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt announced emergency orders effectively cancelling SXSW. Then, on March 9, the city and county announced that events with more than 2,500 attendees "are prohibited unless organizers are able to assure Austin Public Health that mitigation plans for infectious diseases are in place."

According to a statement from the city and the county, APH will evaluate the level of risk for every event of 2,500 or more people in attendance to decide whether the prohibition will stay in place based on factors such as likelihood of personal contact, crowd density and the number of travelers from areas experiencing person-to-person spread of the coronavirus.

Community Impact Newspaper contacted COTA about its plans regarding the upcoming AutoNation Indycar challenge, Austin Bold FC games, Jmblya and a Rolling Stones concert, but has yet to hear back about the status of those events.

Not all large events have been canceled yet. WGC-Dell Match Play, the latest stop for the PGA Tour scheduled for March 25-29, is still scheduled to go on, according to a statement released Friday.

“Our No. 1 priority is the health and safety of our tournament teams, volunteers, players, fans, sponsors and anyone associated with the event,” the PGA's statement said. “We have been and are continuing to monitor the developing situation closely through updates from the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization. Based upon current knowledge and their recommendations on planning for mass gatherings, we are proceeding as scheduled with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play later this month. We will continue to review the available information with authorities and take appropriate action as advised.”

The PGA also said it will add extra hand-sanitizing stations at all restrooms, high-traffic fan zones and volunteer headquarters, and a thorough cleaning of restrooms and food-vending areas will happen each night.

However, the PGA added that some players may not sign autographs, “out of an overabundance of caution.”

Other events are facing postponements, such as the Austin Food & Wine Alliance's Live Fire! event, which was scheduled for April 2 at Camp Mabry and is now postponed to a later date. The event, which would have brought together a group of chefs to give their variations on dishes featuring Texas beef, is separate from the Austin Food + Wine Festival, scheduled for April 24-26.

The Travis County Commissioners Court is also holding a meeting March 10 to discuss Rodeo Austin, which is scheduled to take place at the Travis County Exposition Center from March 14-28. Community Impact Newspaper will have continuing coverage of this story.

The Travis County Commissioners Court is also met Tuesday discuss Rodeo Austin, scheduled to take place at the Travis County Exposition Center from March 14-28. For now, that event and another, the music festival Luck Reunion, are still scheduled to take place. Luck Reunion happens at Willie Nelson’s Luck Ranch in Spicewood and is planned for March 18-19.

Editor's note: This story was updated to provide correct information about the Live Fire! event, which has been postponed and not canceled.


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