Jersey Mike Classic looks at expansion, greater corporate partnerships
Herbert Morrison Technical's D'Aire Patterson (foreground) takes on Calabar High's Jahidi Campbell in the final of the inaugural Jersey Mike's Jamaica Classic high school 3on3 tournament at the Montego Bay Convention Centre recently. Calabar High won 13-11 in overtime. (Photo: Paul Reid)

MONTEGO BAY, St James — There could be changes to the Jersey Mike's Jamaica Classic NCAA basketball tournament that was held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre earlier this month, beginning as early as the 2023 staging, organisers have said.

There could be a women's tournament, plus the event could be moved from the second weekend of November, Jacob Ridenhour, executive director of Jamaica Classic, told the Jamaica Observer on the final day of the 2022 staging that saw eight NCAA men's Division One teams participating in the three-day event.

Usually, the organisers would have a number of teams lined up for the next year.

"We have a lot of good teams lined up, [and] we are excited about next year and ready to move forward. I am not ready to talk about next year yet, [but] we have full intentions to bringing a women's tournament here next year so the young girls can have role models," said Ridenhour.

Speaking on the final day of the event that resumed after a two-year break due to COVID-19, Ridenhour said: "We will have to tweak some thing, and since CBS [American television network] will determine certain things, they have spoken to us about changing our dates for coverage and we kinda have to go along with them."

More local partnerships, he said, was their most pressing need and said what "we really need to get corporate of Jamaica behind us".

"We need people to get on board now, not wait until the second week of November," Ridenhour noted. Not withstanding, Ridenhour noted that "it's been a great event [as] we were forced to take two years off but this was great".

Donovan White, Jamaica's director of tourism, welcomed back the event and said it fitted well in the overall plans of the Jamaica Tourist Board.

"Its part of our strategy, when you talk about tourism, you talk about bringing people to the island, some of these colleges and universities in the USA have multi-billion-dollar alumni associations and what we want to do continually with this tournament is to bring the appeal to the teams and the alumni is to come to Jamaica and support their schools," he said.

White added: "Also, a lot of these players will go on to play in the NBA and we want them to be introduced to Jamaica as a vacation destination so that when they are professionals and they are looking for a place for vacation, they will think of Jamaica as they would have been here before, they would have been introduced to the product, they would have touched and felt the product."

White said the arrangements with the organisers of the Jamaica Classic was a "work in progress".

"The arrangement is for this year's staging and we are going to get back to the table and work through some of the logistics and the detail of how we go forward, but it was important to get the tournament back on track to get all of our partners, both here and abroad, back in tune and to get the schools back involved," said the tourism guru.

"We are going back to the negotiating table with the guys from Jamaica Classic and we are going to hammer out the best arrangements that is possible that works for the destination and for them as well."

Ridenhour said he is hoping that an enduring partnership can be reached between the parties.

"I hope we can have a rolling deal, that would be nice, as long as Jamaica is supporting us and we are bringing a good product to Jamaica we would love to have that relationship," he said.

Ridenhour admitted there have been some hurdles along the way.

"It gets challenging at times, for example, that hotels are not being run by the country, so we are at the mercy of the hotels and the rates are getting high, but that is every where and hopefully it balances back out," he ended.

Paul Reid

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