(WJBF) — Health concerns related to COVID-19, more commonly referred to as the coronavirus, are affecting sporting events around the world.
On Wednesday, the NCAA said both women’s and men’s tournament games will be played without fans. Also, the NBA suspended the rest of the season.
Also on Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced a travel restriction to and from Europe. The president says the ban will start on Friday at midnight and will last 30 days.
Recent news of cancellations has made many in Augusta question, what about the Masters and surrounding events?
As of last Wednesday, Augusta National says The Masters Golf Tournament will still happen as scheduled. Leadership at the golf club also says they are monitoring the situation.
Home rentals during Masters week are a huge money maker for people who live in the Augusta area. We talked to Glen Bynum who organizes dozens of home rentals each year with his company Champion Home Rentals and he says the industry has taken a hit recently.
“What I do is provide housing, transportation, catering, pretty much any need that a customer would have coming to watch The Masters during that week,” Bynum explains.
Bynum says reservations have slowed. However, the good news, he says the people who booked months in advance are still good to go.
“We haven’t had any cancellations from any groups nationally or internationally,” Bynum says. “I’ve spoken to some people in my business who had some cancellations from China, which is understood.”
It is the recent business that he says has taken a hit.
“A lot of the new business that usually books within the last 30 to 45 days is really just come to a halt so that’s affecting all of us in the housing and hotel industry as well as every other provider in Augusta that has something to do with Masters week,” Bynum says.
Bynum has a lot more homes available for lease now than he normally does at this time of the month.
“We do have a lot of homeowners calling and they are either desperate or are pretty upset that they haven’t leased,” Bynum says.
Many of the prices have dropped for the homes that are still available to be rented during the second week in April.
“There are still homeowners who are leaving anyways so yeah, they are open to a lower price by quite a bit. Some up as much as 50% off the original asking price. Then there are some homeowners who just don’t get it that still think they are going to get full price,” Bynum says.
Bynum is optimistic and says the sooner we get to tournament play, the better he thinks business will get.
“If we don’t hear anything for the next week or so I would assume it’s going to be fully on and we will see a little bump in people looking for housing, hotels and everything else,” Bynum assumes.
Bynum says he hears a lot of people comparing the Masters to the South by Southwest Festival that was cancelled in Austin. As someone who used to live in Austin he points out that the two events are not comparable. He says South by Southwest has a lot of indoor events, while The Masters is obviously outdoors.