Fans, downtown Lexington businesses excited as high school state tournament begins

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 5:31 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It’s been a memorable season for these high school basketball teams, each taking on the toughest opponent—the pandemic. Now, the top 16 teams in the state are back at Rupp Arena going for the state title.

“It’s great to be back in the tournament,” fan Terry Hayes said.

Last year the tournament was suspended amid rising concern over COVID-19. This year, a return to the big stage for teams across Kentucky. A return to normal.

“That’s something they have worked hard for. Parents look forward to it, kids look forward to it, the school looks forward to it,” Hayes said.

And businesses in downtown Lexington have looked forward to it as well. At LexLive, the Sweet 16 is the first major event in town to happen since they’ve been open. Management says day 1 has kept them busy.

“The synergies are all starting to come together. There are so many exciting things over at Rupp as well as the convention center and what’s happening here as well. We really think right now is a renaissance for downtown,” said Bruce Wren with LexLive.

Inside the arena, there are COVID protocols in place. Masks are required, as is spacing throughout the crowd. Some say it’s changed the atmosphere a little, but they’ll take something rather than no tournament at all.

“It was disappointing. But you know what you gotta do, you just gotta stay positive and look forward for the future. That’s kind of what’s happening here today,” Hayes said.

The boys’ tournament runs through Saturday, and the girls’ Sweet 16 tips off next Wednesday.

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