The Vancouver Basketball Showcase will launch in November 2018 and be headlined by the men’s programs at Minnesota and Texas A&M. The event, which features an eight-team men’s tournament and an eight-team women’s tournament, was originally scheduled for the 2017-18 season. U.S.-based bd Global, the event promoter, announced the change and headline teams today.
“In consultation with our local partners at Tourism Vancouver and Sport Hosting Vancouver, we made the decision to launch this event in 2018 in order to maximize the impact locally in Vancouver and to kick-off the festivities with the best possible field,” said Brooks Downing, President and CEO of bd Global. “Initially, as we were securing teams for 2017, ’18 and beyond, the strength of the field in 2018 was so impressive, we felt it was best to wait 12 months and really set the bar on how strong of a destination location that Vancouver can be for NCAA basketball. The tourism value will be greater and the competition in the field will be as strong as any regular-season tournament that season. It will be worth the wait.”
The men’s and women’s tournaments will be played back-to-back under the iconic sails of the Vancouver Convention Centre. The Convention Centre’s exhibition space in its East building will be transformed into a 3,000-plus seat venue, complete with portable bleachers, portable floor, goals (baskets), and video boards to provide a first-class fan experience at every game. The action tips with the men’s tournament on November 18-20 to be followed by the women’s tournament on November 22-24.
Minnesota is led by coach Richard Pitino, son of Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino at Louisville, and achieved a 24-win campaign in the Big Ten Conference last season. The Golden Gophers earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament to cap arguably the biggest turnaround of any program in the country last year. Texas A&M is only one year removed from its own run in the NCAA Tournament and a Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship. Coach Billy Kennedy adds a Top-25 recruiting class to a strong group of veteran players as the Aggies looking to compete for a league title this season.
Additional teams in both the men’s and women’s fields will be announced in the next few weeks. Fans are encouraged to visit www.vanshowcase.com for the latest news and to register for ticket information.
bd Global currently manages numerous college basketball events in markets such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Southwest Florida and Nassau, Bahamas. The firm also has a golf division that manages professional golf tournaments and will launch an NCAA hockey tournament in Las Vegas in January. The idea for the Vancouver event came from two locals – David Munro, a former Vancouver Grizzlies official, and Howard Kelsey, who has been involved with Canadian basketball at nearly every level for the past four decades since he played for Team Canada. Both will serve as co-tournament directors.
“We fully support bd Global’s decision to launch this exciting event in 2018,” said Kelsey, who is the co-founder of the CDN National Teams Alumni Association. “We have a duty to the local partners that are supporting this endeavor and all the basketball fans in British Columbia to bring a big-time, first-class event to Vancouver. I am excited about the teams that will headline the event and have no doubt that this will be huge for our community.”
"Teams such as Minnesota and Texas A&M are not only great programs but some of the most identifiable brands in sports,” added Munro, who currently works at the Sports Institute. “Howard and I set out to bring a level of basketball back to Vancouver not seen since the Grizzlies left town. Most will agree that this event will fill a tremendous void in our community in this sport.”
The Vancouver Showcase will annually attract 16 teams to Vancouver which will greatly impact local tourism. In addition to airlifting in 16 teams annually from across the United States, the event is expected to drive “heads in beds” with fan travel, media, international broadcast production groups and game officials, requiring multiple hotels to be involved as hosts. Additionally, the transformation of the Vancouver Convention Centre into a basketball venue is another example of the flexibility of the renowned venue that attracts international meetings and conventions from around the world.
NCAA Division I basketball players represent highest level of intercollegiate athletics in the United States. Schools in this division include the major collegiate athletic powers, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities, and more athletic scholarships than other divisions. bd Global has worked with such programs like Kentucky, Duke, Gonzaga and Michigan State on the men’s side, and Connecticut, Stanford, Baylor and UCLA in women’s basketball.