Mohegan Sun

Undated photo of Mohegan Sun.

As the NCAA continues to monitor COVID-19, including its impact on the college basketball season, officials at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville are hopeful they can host games as planned this fall.

However, beyond the events that have been locked into place for months, such as the Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase featuring UConn and Quinnipiac, the venue may also serve as a “bubble” site amid the pandemic.

“The NCAA is going to say whether you can start your season Nov. 10 or a different week,” said Dave Martinelli, chief marketing officer at Mohegan Sun. “The later they start that first game, the more prevalent a bubble could be. You’re going to have a lot of teams looking to play as many games as they can play.

“Once that decision is made on when the season will start, I think people will move extremely quickly.”

The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees are expected to propose a start date of Nov. 25 — the day after Thanksgiving — later this month, according to multiple reports.

To help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, coaches and administrators have publicly floated the idea of trying something similar to the NBA and WNBA, where teams could play multiple games at one location to cut down on risks such as travel.

Martinelli, who has been working in conjunction with the Basketball Hall of Fame, said numerous options are currently on the table, including 16 teams — men’s or women’s — playing four games each over the course of eight days. Both the 10,000-seat main arena where the WNBA’s Sun play and the neighboring Expo and Convention Center could be used.

“You could fit four courts down there and really churn through a lot of games,” Martinelli said of the Expo Center. “This bubble option gives you an alternative, a more efficient way to fill out your non-conference schedule.”

Players, coaches and staff would be housed at the on-site hotel. All food and beverage service would be handled under the same roof.

“The bubble’s going to be as tight as the teams and conferences want it to be,” Martinelli said. “They could have floors of the hotel with only the basketball team, and they could go back-of-the-house to the arena or the Expo Center. But that’s going to be the team’s decision.”

A few early season non-conference tournaments are scheduled to be played at Mohegan, including the Air Force Reserve Hall of Fame Tip-off, an eight-team men’s tournament including Quinnipiac (Nov. 21-22), the aforementioned Women’s Hall of Fame Showcase (Nov. 28-29), and two tripleheaders in December.

The Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament is also moving there from Chicago, where it had been staged six of the last seven years. The move coincides with UConn’s return to the conference, and represents a shift in thinking about the venue itself.

Some of the league’s presidents didn’t approve of holding the event inside a casino during the old Big East. But those feelings apparently have changed.

“I think there was just a change in the way that gaming is viewed in our society,” Martinelli said. “Since the 10-plus years that decision was made, UConn and almost every other Big East school has played here in some sort of fashion, whether it’s a tournament or a one-off game. There’s a much better comfortability of playing here.

“I don’t know how the Big East voted. I just know they voted positively.”

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour