Wildfire response forces relocation of 2023 Maui Invitational
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite calls to keep one of the nation’s premier sporting events on the Valley Isle, organizers announced Friday the 2023 Maui Invitational is relocating to Oahu.
Organizers say it’s because the traditional home court — the Lahaina Civic Center — continues to serve as a critical hub for Maui wildfire recovery efforts.
The basketball tournament will be held at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu on the Campus of the University of Hawaii.
The decision comes just days after Gov. Josh Green told HNN’s “Spotlight Now” that the tournament would most likely be moved to Oahu.
Maui Mayor Richard Bissen says it’s disappointing the venue is not available for the tournament but he’s happy it’s staying in the state.
“We appreciate everything the Maui Invitational is doing to help Maui and its residents,” Bissen added.
The Maui Invitational typically generates at least $16 million for the state in visitor spending.
That revenue along with national television exposure essentially acts as a days-long commercial for the islands.
The event’s temporarily relocation means much-needed revenue won’t be going to Hawaii’s tourism-dependent businesses, many of which are reeling in the wake of the wildfires. Tourism to Maui has plummeted since the disaster, despite a message that most of Maui is open.
Green said that with the tournament’s presence on Oahu, he hopes it will continue to bring attention to and raise funds for Maui recovery efforts.
This year’s field features five top-10 teams in the country and the change in venue will give fans of the host team — Chaminade — an easier way to attend.
The tournament takes place from Nov. 20 to Nov. 22.
Organizers say all previously purchased tickets will be honored and located in similar seats in the Stan Sheriff Center.
For more information on this year’s Maui Invitational, click here.
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