Count the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as the latest institution to have its best-laid plans felled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of the board of governors for the Hall, told ESPN on Wednesday that enshrinement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 — one of the most star-studded lineups ever, including Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant — will be moved to spring 2021.
Colangelo said the original dates of enshrinement weekend, Aug. 28-30, and the proposed alternate dates, Oct. 10-12, are “just not feasible” in light of the pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 people in the U.S. and has rendered large gatherings taboo. The board of governors will convene on June 10, he said, to explore spring dates.
“We’re definitely canceling,” Colangelo said. “It’s going to have to be the first quarter of next year. We’ll meet in a couple of weeks and look at the options of how and when and where.”
The Hall was hoping that its 2020 class — which also includes former Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich, 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings, Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, Bentley College women’s basketball coach Barbara Stevens, former FIBA and IOC executive Patrick Baumann and former college coach Eddie Sutton, who died Saturday — would serve as a springboard to trumpet its $23 million renovation. The Hall, located in Springfield, Massachusetts, closed in early February to complete the renovations and planned to reopen on March 25, but because of the pandemic, its doors have remained shuttered.
The original plan called for a Friday celebration at Mohegan Sun, a casino and resort in Uncasville, Connecticut, where rings and Hall of Fame jackets would have been presented to the inductees. The enshrinement ceremony was scheduled to be held in Springfield on Aug. 29 at Symphony Hall, which has a seating capacity of 2,611.
Colangelo said Hall of Fame officials considered moving the enshrinement ceremony from Symphony Hall to the MassMutual Center in Springfield, which can hold 8,319 people, for social distancing purposes but decided to instead move the date forward several months.
Colangelo stressed that there will be separate ceremonies for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021, even though both events will be held in the calendar year 2021.
“We won’t be combining them,” he said. “The Class of 2020 is a very special class and deserves its own celebration.”