Alabama’s Nate Oats reacts to Maui Invitational being moved to North Carolina
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – For the first time in it’s 36 year history, the Maui Jim Maui Invitational will not be held in its namesake location — moving over 4,000 miles to North Carolina.
On Friday morning, tournament officials made the announcement that the 2020 Maui Invitational will be moved to the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, North Carolina.
Trading the Aloha state for the Tar Heel state, tournament officials hope to bring some of the spirit of aloha to the mainland.
That sentiment is echoed by the Maui Visitors Bureau, who has been a sponsor of the tournament since its inception in 1984 — issuing a statement in support of the move, while also inviting the tournament back to Maui in 2021.
“On behalf of Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau, I’d like to express our support of Maui Jim Maui Invitational’s (MJMI) decision to move the tournament to North Carolina this year. We appreciate their consideration to protect the health and safety of our Maui community.” A Maui Visitors Bureau spokesperson told Hawaii News Now. “Given our strong relationship with the MJMI, we’re also confident that we will still have a strong presence both in aloha spirit and Maui branding throughout the tournament. We’ll look forward to extending our aloha and welcoming MJMI back in 2021.”
This year’s lineup includes the likes of Alabama, Davidson, Stanford and North Carolina — who will now stay in state. Tournament host school Chaminade participates in the event every other year, so they will not be making the trip to the Tar Heel state. For the health and safety of the athletes and staff participating, tournament officials will be operating under the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidance for mass gatherings — no announcements on whether fans will be in attendance or not.
The new official start date for the 2020 Maui Invitational will be announced soon. The other major college basketball tournament that is held in the 808 is the Diamond Head Classic, which is rumored to be moving off island to Orlando — operating in a bubble format, much like the NBA. While no official announcement has been made for the move, Diamond Head Classic officials issued a statement saying they are figuring out their next moves. “ESPN Events continues to evaluate the next steps for our owned and operated events as conferences make decisions on their seasons.” A spokesperson said.