Here's what it was like to be in Bankers Life when the Big Ten tournament was canceled
The Big Ten tournament has been canceled, effective immediately, less than 20 minutes prior to the scheduled tip-off between Michigan and Rutgers. IndyStar reporter Matthew VanTryon was in Bankers Life Fieldhouse when the cancellation was announced. Here’s what he experienced:
10:52 a.m. I check out the entrance to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Delaware Street. It’s empty, sans a security guard in a neon green shirt. I walk toward the media entrance on Delaware. Another security officer gives me a fist bump.
10:56 a.m. I pick up my credential and get on the elevator with about eight other media members’. “Everybody hold your breath,” one person says. There are some nervous laughs.
11:02 a.m. It took me all of two minutes in the media room to accidentally shake someone’s hand. “We probably shouldn’t have done that,” he says.
11:22 a.m. Before I head up to the main concourse, I’m stopped by Jerry, a security worker I’ve known for a while by covering events around Indianapolis. He’s been working events at the Fieldhouse for three years. “I’ve been around a lot longer than you and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “I didn’t even know if I was going to be working today. I wonder what they’re going to do about concerts, the IHSAA basketball and all that. There are probably people who have it and don’t even know it.”
11:25 a.m. Some people are standing beyond security waiting to get in. I ask a guard when they’ll be let in. He said they’re supposed to open 30 minutes before tip-off.
11:26 a.m. I peruse concession stands to see what’s open, starting outside Section 1. You won’t get beer or pretzels or popcorn. No frozen cocktails or smoothies. No Sugarfire Smoke House or Steak ‘n Shake. No Mimi Blue Meatballs. I see a security guard outside Section 7 and ask what will be open. “Just on the west side,” she says. I see one stand preparing to open. If you want a hot dog, you might be in luck.
11:44 a.m. I get an email saying the remainder of the tournament has been canceled.
11:45 a.m. I head out to where I can see the floor. No players, and a lot of media members milling around. A Big Ten television person asks if I can move so he can get a shot of the empty gym for the open of the telecast.
“Did you know it’s canceled?” I ask.
“What? The whole thing?” he says. “No, I didn’t know that.”
11:48 a.m. At this point, I’m sprinting toward the elevator to get down to the court. I stop by the open concession stand. “Did you guys hear it’s canceled?” One guy gives me a blank look. Another guy says, “What? Woah. Do I still get paid?”
11:51 a.m. I make it down to the floor just in time to hear the PA announcer say the remainder of the tournament. There are no boos, because no fans are there to hear it.
11:53 a.m. I overhear a media member talking on the phone. “They’re telling us to go to the practice court (where the media workroom is) … “I don’t (expletive) know,” she adds.
11:55 a.m. I head into the workroom with the other media members. Jerry sees me. “Well, Matthew, I’ll see you sometime. Don’t know when.”