Matt Jennissen had tickets — along with extended family and friends — for the NCAA Wrestling Championships scheduled for next week at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Now Jennissen is among countless Minnesotans and millions of sports fans nationwide living at least temporarily in a nearly sports-free world as leagues and events hit the pause button in lockstep this week as a means of protecting against the further spread of COVID-19.
A mixture of disappointment and understanding seems to be theme for most fans — along with a side of "what happens now to my tickets?"
"I'm disappointed, since this is the first time it was going to be here in a long time and the first time at a football stadium," said Jennissen, who lives in the northern Twin Cities suburb of Hugo. But he added that he has multiple relatives who are "vulnerable healthwise … so I understand and am OK with the decision" made Thursday by the NCAA to cancel the wrestling tournament after earlier saying it would go on but without fans present.
Aaron Zimmer lives in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis and had tickets to both the wrestling championships and the Twins home opener — the latter of which was also postponed Thursday, with MLB suspending play for the rest of spring training and the first two weeks of the regular season.
"This is all surreal," he said, "although probably doing its job in helping limit the spread and driving home how serious an issue it is, at least."
Dan Wade, a Minnesota United season-ticket holder, had a similar reaction after Major League Soccer suspended its season Thursday — just three days before the Loons were scheduled to have their home opener.
He said he was planning to skip Sunday's match and possibly more early this season "because it was the right thing to do, but now I won't have to miss out. … I'm glad the league made the call."
That doesn't mean fans aren't disappointed, though — particularly those for whom an individual event was more than just a game. Sports can be cultural and family connection points, and Thursday's Wild game was going to be just that for Brandon Byrnes.
Byrnes is in the Air Force and said he hasn't been back in Minnesota for a year. He flew in this week from New Jersey to surprise his dad and take him to Thursday's Wild game against Vegas — one that was canceled hours before it happened when the NHL suspended its season.
He said he thinks league reaction to the coronavirus is "overblown somewhat" and that "anyone who wants to risk going to the games takes that risk knowing the current situation."
The rapid-fire nature of the league and event postponements have left teams scrambling and fans wondering what happens to their tickets.
The short answer: either refunds or exchanges, depending on the situation.
Tyler Abels lives in the Des Moines area and had tickets to the wrestling championships. The NCAA says he will get a full refund for the tickets he purchased through Ticketmaster — minus applicable fees. TicketMaster's website says the only fee that's not refundable is for delivery through UPS, which means Abels figures he will be out about $5.
It might take time, though: The NCAA warned on its website to "please understand that we will be receiving a large volume of calls and e-mails regarding this decision, and we ask that you allow us five business days to respond to your specific questions."
The Wild released a statement Thursday that read, in part: "The team will communicate to season ticket members, corporate partners, single-game buyers and other affected parties with additional information soon." The Wild's season ticket policy states that if games are canceled, the club will offer either an account credit or a refund.
Minnesota United's ticket policy, per its website, on canceled games is to offer an exchange but not a refund: "Management shall not issue a refund provided you are given the right, within 12 months of the event, to attend a rescheduled event or to exchange this ticket for a ticket comparable in price and location to another similar event as designated by management."
Twins fans are typically given a similar option in the event of a weather postponement.
Then again, different policies could evolve in the case of these virus-related postponements — all of which are new territory for almost everyone involved.
"I trust some info will come through as quick as it can," said United fan and St. Paul resident Josh Veeley, who had tickets for three games that are now postponed and was waiting to hear from the team about how ticket exchanges will work. "The team and front office have a lot to work through."
Indeed, hours after he said that Thursday, United issued a statement that read in part: "All tickets — whether season, group, premium or individual — that have already been purchased for Sunday's home opener and subsequent postponed home games will be honored when the games have been rescheduled. We will keep you updated regarding any changes to our approach, as we are continuing to navigate the evolving situation."
The Timberwolves, who weren't scheduled to have another home game until March 22 before the NBA became the first of the major U.S. leagues to suspend play Wednesday, released a similar message to fans Thursday from CEO Ethan Casson.
"All fans ... who have tickets for a postponed game will automatically be able to use their tickets for the rescheduled game," Casson wrote. "If games are not played, or played in an empty arena, fans will have the option to receive a credit or a refund."
Every local team has expressed its support for the decisions of leagues to suspend play as a means of containing COVID-19. Perhaps Twins President Dave St. Peter described the past week best Thursday night on Twitter.
"Still trying to wrap my mind around another unprecedented day in American sports," St. Peter tweeted. "No playbooks for what comes next. Take precautions to ensure you and your family's good health. Down the road, when the time is right, sports will again play a huge role in helping our nation heal."