Mick Cronin calls out fan restrictions at UCLA home games while LA Rams pack SoFi Stadium
UCLA continues to play its home games without anyone inside the Pauley Pavilion to cheer the team on. SoFi Stadium, only 13 miles away from UCLA’s basketball arena in Westwood, just hosted more than 70,000 fans for Wild Card action in the NFL Playoffs on Monday.
Bruin head coach Mick Cronin isn’t too pleased about that dichotomy.
Mick Cronin on going to play at Utah on Thursday: "I think what will help us is to run out of a tunnel and play in front of fans. I think it’s hugely demoralizing to our guys to play games in empty arenas when there’s 80,000 people at the Rams game yesterday."
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) January 18, 2022
“I think it’s hugely demoralizing to our guys to play games in empty arenas when there’s 80,000 people at the Rams game yesterday,” Cronin told reporters on Tuesday as his team readies to take on Utes on Thursday.
The UCLA athletic department, taking direction from UCLA’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force, announced on Jan. 11 that all indoor athletic competitions at the university would be limited to families of team members through Jan. 21 in response to a recent Omicron variant surge.
The Bruins hosted Long Beach State, Oregon, and Oregon State without fans in the stands.
At the time, Cronin said those decisions were and are made without his input. “My obvious concerns would be, one, support of our players and this group of guys that has been special to the university, guys who came back to school,” he said, adding that he’d prefer to see the arena packed. “And two is competitive advantage versus disadvantage, cause when we go on the road, we’re definitely playing in packed houses.”
UCLA said it would continue to monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis with a goal of bringing fans back as soon as possible.
The larger university moved the first two weeks of its winter quarter classes online in response to the surge of the omicron variant back on Dec. 21, a move that was then extended through Jan. 28.
On Sunday, 43,883 new coronavirus cases 43,883 new coronavirus cases were reported in L.A. county, according to the Los Angeles Times. For the seven-day period that ended Sunday, L.A. County averaged roughly 41,000 new COVID cases a day, an increase from the roughly 32,000 per day average of the previous week. Last winter, L.A. County peaked at 16,000 cases a day.
USC has also restricted fan attendance at home indoor sporting events.
The Rams’ 34-11 win over the Arizona Cardinals Monday night was played in front of an announced crowd of 70,625. Capacity for the stadium is listed at 70,240.
The ninth-ranked Bruins play at Utah on Thursday, Jan. 20, with tip-off slated for 8 p.m. PT on FS1.