C3 Sports will temporarily suspend hosting tournaments, a month after hosting a national amateur wrestling event that drew concerns from College Township officials and some residents over the potential spread of COVID-19.
Pastor Mitchel Smith of Christ Community Church, which owns the adjoining sports arena at 200 Ellis Place, said no COVID-19 cases have been reported in connection with activities at C3 Sports.
"Out of an abundance of caution, and respect for the COVID-19 pandemic, Christ Community Church has decided to temporarily suspend tournaments in the C3 Sports Arena," the statement said.
While tournaments are canceled, other activities at C3 will continue as normal, Smith said.
"The church has a foremost concern for the safety of the entire Centre County community and will use this time to assess the current landscape for the pandemic status and best practices for hosting events," the statement said.
On the weekend of Sept. 11-13, C3 Sports hosted the Olympic Club Duals tournament, a tournament that featured more than 1,200 scholastic, cadet and junior wrestlers from all over the country and an additional 1,500 coaches, family members and personnel.
College Township officials learned of the tournament a day before it began and sought state intervention to shut it down, citing its potential as a COVID-19 "super-spreader" event. The tournament, however, proceeded and Olympic Club Duals organizers said a health and safety plan was in place.
Smith said in his statement that third parties "are rigorously screened and vetted" before rental use is approved.
“The adherence of standard and COVID-19 safety protocols is required of lessees," he said.
During the Olympic Club Duals event, more than 30 citations were issued to the organizers and C3 for fire code infractions, zoning use and health code violations, and violations of the township's ordinance for enforcing state restrictions on gathering sizes, according to the township.
Social media posts also showed organizers "took little or no action to enforce either masking requirements or social distancing requirements," township officials said following the tournament.
College Township Council Chair Anthony Fragola said in an email on Monday that since then the township has been working with C3, Centre Region Code Administration, Happy Valley Adventure Bureau and organizers of the Journeyman Wrestling Fall Classic that had been planned for this coming weekend to ensure compliance with the township ordinance and code and "to have a safe and productive event for all within our community."
Township administration and staff, he said, made it known that they are not against holding events "but just want them to be conducted with public health and safety in mind," and that they wanted to ensure C3 follows necessary protocols, whether during the pandemic or not.
"...[T]he Township does understand the need for economic success within our community and ensure these events are conducted within our community safely," he added.
Fragola said that over the past few weeks a solution was found for the Journeyman wrestling tournament to proceed. Township officials received a note from the organizers thanking them for working to find a safe way to hold the event, he said.
"At the last hours, it appears C3 has pulled the plug on all October events they had scheduled," Fragola said. "We did not know of this in advance of their press release.
"I cannot comment nor understand how C3 can make a blanket statement in their press release that not a single Covid-19 positive case has been reported as a result of, transmitted in, or active within C3 SPORT as again I am not sure how they can tally that, but am happy if this is the case."
C3 Sports, a 26,000-square foot multi-use dome "was built in a collaborative effort to assist the region in solving an unmet need of a year-round indoor, large event space for worship, meetings, camps, tournaments and play," Smith said.
“Christ Community Church believes the local church brings hope to the world and that every generation plays an important role in the building of our community," he said in the statement. “Investing in our young people is a critical step in developing future leaders.
"Christ Community Church intends to emerge from this pandemic, with you, stronger as a faith-based organization than when we entered back in the beginning of 2020.”