New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo shut down all Broadway performances in New York City on Thursday, the latest major event cancellation in less than 24 hours. Major League Baseball had already suspended its spring training on Thursday, following the National Basketball Association's surprise announcement Wednesday night that it would suspend all games after a player tested positive for the new coronavirus.
It's not clear how long some of these shut downs will last—ESPN reports the NBA will stop play for at least two weeks though probably much longer—or whether games will be rescheduled. Yet as public health officials increasingly encourage "social distancing," it's likely these are the first of many postponed or cancelled games, shows, or concerts across the country.
What if you're a ticket holder? In general, you should be able to get a refund for any cancelled event. If an event is simply postponed, the details are murkier. Here are details about policies for different types of events:
NBA Games and Other Sporting Events
All of the major sports leagues have now suspended play. None of them have announced a single refund policy, but some individual teams have told fans they can expect a credit to a future game or a refund. The Orlando Magic, for example, announced tickets already purchased for a postponed game will be honored when the game is rescheduled. If games are not played or played in an empty-arena, fans will have the option to receive a credit for a future game or a refund. Ahead of the NBA's announcement about suspending all games, the Golden State Warriors had already told fans with tickets to games this week--which were going to be played without an audience--that they'd get a refund.
If you're unsure whether you can get a refund, start by contacting the box office of the home team.
Events Purchased Through Ticketing Platforms
Ticketmaster and Stub Hub both regularly give refunds for cancelled events, but they've expanded those policies in light of a rising number of cancellations.
Stub Hub says on its website it give a full refund for cancelled events, but that it will take two to three weeks to process. Alternatively, you can opt for a Stub Hub coupon to use in the future that's worth 120% of the value of the ticket you're no longer able to use. The largest cancelled events on Stub Hub's website include at least six NCAA basketball tournaments and performances of the "Hamilton" musical in San Francisco.
Ticketmaster has said it will email all customers who have a ticket to an event that's cancelled or postponed, a list that totaled about 25 shows as of Thursday. That number is sure to grow, after Live Nation Entertainment and AEG Presents—two companies that dominate the concert industry—announced all North American music tours would be suspended until the end of March.
If an event is cancelled, Ticketmaster will post a refund to your account within 7 to 10 business days. If an event is postponed, you'll have to wait to see if it's rescheduled. If you're unable to attend the new date, then you'll be eligible for a refund via Ticketmaster.
TodayTix, which sells tickets to musicals and plays, has said it is working on plans for shows that had been scheduled in San Francisco and Washington state, which were the first places to ban large public gatherings. In other cases, the website says its policies are a direct reflection of the rules of the theater hosting the show. If that box office has said it will allow ticket exchanges, Today Tix says it will give customers a voucher worth 110% of the original order value.
If an event is still scheduled to take place, none of the websites has offered any flexibility so far for a refund. In other words, ticket holders who simply choose not to attend an event in an attempt to limit their contact with large groups of people appear to be out of luck.
After The New York Times reported Wednesday that usher who worked at "Six" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in late February and early March has tested positive for COVID-19, calls to close down Broadway surged. The Broadway League, the trade association for the industry, previously said shows would continue unless told to close by government officials. Earlier this week, one producer even announced discounted tickets to popular shows including "How to Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Book of Mormon," selling seats for a flat $50 fee. Those shows can typically sell standard tickets for more than $200.
Typically, there are no refunds or exchanges for Broadway tickets. Yet now that all shows are cancelled through April 12 on the governor's orders, policies may change. Your best option currently is to contact your point of purchase to ask.
This story has been updated to reflect additional cancellations and the news that Broadway shows are scheduled to resume April 13.