Stevens Point will host Gus Macker tournament for next three years
Stevens Point has been selected to host the final Gus Macker Basketball Tournament of the 2016 season in September as well as host to the tournament next year and in 2018.
The Gus Macker Basketball Tournament is a national not-for-profit three-on-three outdoor basketball tournament for girls, boys, men and women of all ages and skill levels.
The tournament started in Michigan with a group of neighbors playing three-on-three in a young man’s driveway and now has reached national heights. Since 1987, the Macker tour has expanded, holding a total of 972 tournaments with more than 2.2 million players – male and female, from 7 years old to older than 50 – and more than 23 million spectators.
“I am thrilled that we were chosen to host a tournament of this magnitude,” said Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza. “With an estimated 200 teams and to have it locked in for the next three years is spectacular.”
“We’re excited to host the Gus Macker (tournament). It’s been a traveling event for a number of years across the state and across the country, so for us to be able to host it is a huge honor,” said Sara Brish, executive director of the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“We are looking to welcoming anywhere between 100 and 300 teams to the area,” she said. “On average, we know that visitors spend about $241 for sports-related events in the community. That includes lodging, shopping and dining. It’s a huge impact.”
“Even at the low end of 200 teams, that’s 600 players plus their families, organizers, vendors … so we may be talking about close to 1,000 people coming in just for the tournament,” said Wiza.
Wiza said the event will most likely be held in the downtown area, but the exact location has yet to be decided. He said he expects the location to be voted on during next month’s round of city committee and council meetings.
“Of course, any time we can bring something new to the community and expose new visitors to the community, we’re excited about that,” said Brish. “It helps us promote those ‘quality of life’ assets we have here in the community. So, not only are they going to come here and shoot hoops for two days, they’re also going to enjoy our restaurants, our shops and our downtown.”
Another added benefit to the tournament is that it’s held in the fall, a traditionally slower time for tourism in Portage County.
“One of my favorite parts to this is the time of year this is taking place, it’s a relatively slow time of year (for tourism),” said Brish. “It’s during what we call a ‘shoulder season.’ Summer being our busiest time of year, so the seasons on either side tend to be slower months in terms of events.”
“The Gus Macker is rich with sportsmanship and integrity in the game of basketball which brings our community together for a great outdoor event,” said Keith Schwenn, a local organizer for Gus Macker. “This tournament has the ability to be something strong and great for Stevens Point, and I can only see greater things to come with the Gus Macker in town every year.”
The former Stevens Point downtown mall sponsored a three-on-three basketball event on the mall property in the late 1990s, but that event was discontinued.
Local sports organizers and city officials have also identified a need for the city to have a large, indoor multi-sports facility in addition to the several smaller facilities that already exist.
Gus Macker agreed to put 100 percent of the tournament’s proceeds from all three years to the construction of that facility.
While the plans are still in the infancy stage, it is hoped that basketball, volleyball, soccer, roller derby and other activities could all be housed under one roof, Wiza said.
“I’ve had contacts from several groups, all looking for a place to hold events specific to them. If we can put this group together and make that vision a reality, collectively, everyone wins,” said Wiza. “The tourism associated with a facility of this magnitude will have a huge effect on central Wisconsin as a whole.”
“Certainly we’re excited about any indoor facility. I mean, I think the only city-owned facility currently is the Rec Center where the Parks and Rec offices are, but they also share that space with the Boys & Girls Club (of Portage County). So, to have a separate entity that would be a recreational hotspot for various user groups in the community would be critical,” said Brish.
Brish said she thinks it’s important to have a multi-use facility to foster continued growth in the community.
Surrounding cities, like Wausau and Appleton, have similar facilities which have large drawing pools. Various teams of various sports sometimes travel long distances to find places to play and hold tournaments and adding Stevens Point to the list of available venues would only increase tourism traffic to the area.
“If you look at some of the communities around us, they have similar facilities,” Brish said. “So, in order for us to remain competitive and lure winter or indoor sports tournaments and events to the community, I think it’s very important.”
Information on the local Macker tournament will be available soon at macker.com/local/stevens-point-wi.