ATLANTA (AP) -The Southeastern Conference will refund fans who had tickets for the final three sessions of its storm-altered men's basketball tournament.
The refunds could cost the SEC and its 12 member schools some $2.5 million.
A tornado, which caused heavy damage in downtown Atlanta, struck the dome March 14 during overtime of the Mississippi State-Alabama quarterfinal. That game was finished after a one-hour delay, but the final game of the night between Georgia and Kentucky was postponed until the next day.
After inspecting the building, dome officials recommended that no more games be played in the facility, which seated 26,000 for basketball. The postponed game, as well as the semifinals and final, were shifted to Georgia Tech's 9,191-seat campus arena.
Because of the disparity in seating, the SEC limited attendance the final two days to athletes' families, cheerleaders, bands and other credentialed workers, such as the media. Georgia's victory over Arkansas in the championship game was watched by an estimated 3,700 fans - far short of the 20,000 that likely would have attended at the Georgia Dome.
The SEC said it will issue full refunds to fans who had tickets for the final three sessions of the tournament - Friday evening, Saturday (March 15) and Sunday (March 16) - if they purchased them through the league, the Georgia Dome or one of the 12 member schools. The maximum refund is $125, $45 each for the quarterfinal and semifinal sessions, $35 for the championship game.
The league drew more than 20,000 to its second quarterfinal session, and was hoping to have similar crowds for the final two days.
To receive a refund, fans must mail their tickets to the original place of purchase, postmarked by April 18. Torn tickets will be honored for the March 14 session, since one game was played that night.
The SEC said it will issue refunds only to the original buyers, who will be credited through the same method they used to buy the tickets. Those who bought tickets through scalpers or the secondary market will not be eligible for refunds.
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