There will be no Derby Festival Classic basketball all-star game this year, event organizers announced Thursday.
Festival officials cited “declining attendance and increasing financial loss” as reasons for the cancellation of the event, which was first held in 1973. The statement from the Kentucky Derby Festival office said they will be re-evaluating the future of the basketball classic — if there is any — beyond this year.
“This was not a decision we made lightly,” said Mike Berry, Kentucky Derby Festival president. “It’s our mission to produce events for the entire community and in this case the community was speaking with their feet.”
The game, played at Freedom Hall in Louisville, has struggled to get more than a few thousand fans in recent years despite annually featuring future U of L, UK and Indiana basketball players.
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UK freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the most valuable player of last year’s event.
Organizers plan to re-evaluate the event to see if adjustments can be made to enhance its viability and add it back into the schedule in the future, the statement said. The game took a similar hiatus in 1983.
The postseason all-star circuit has changed since the game was created 45 years ago. The McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic and USA Basketball-backed Nike Hoop Summit now draw the top talent every year.
The Derby Classic has still managed to get several top-50 recruits at its event, but the biggest names have been playing their postseason ball elsewhere.