The All “A” Classic basketball tournaments are moving back to Richmond.
The boys’ and girls’ tournaments — unofficial state tournaments annually held for the state’s smallest schools — will be contested from Jan. 24-28 at Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena in Alumni Coliseum. The event’s board of directors made the announcement at EKU on Saturday morning.
Frankfort was the tournament’s home for the last five years. The scheduled razing of the Frankfort Convention Center left tournament organizers scrambling for a solution.
EKU, which hosted the event for 20 years before giving it up after 2011, was awarded a three-year contract. The Owensboro Sportscenter also made a proposal that was heavily considered, said Mike Reeves, a tournament director.
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“We were lucky when Eastern called and said, ‘Well, we’d like to talk to ya,’” Reeves said. All “A” officials weren’t sure if the school would be able to secure the venue for a week’s worth of high school games in the middle of the Ohio Valley Conference men’s and women’s basketball schedule.
Reeves thinks the attention surrounding the impromptu move has ultimately been beneficial for the tournament’s profile.
“The best thing about this whole thing is people actually want our tournament. They really do,” Reeves said. “And not that we thought they wouldn’t, buy you never know. We’ve been surprised, because a lot of people we didn’t think were all that interested have called us or emailed and said, ‘We hope you guys work it out.’ Not that they had sites or anything, but a lot of people had volunteered to help us find a site if we couldn’t.”
A new video board and other renovations have been added to McBrayer Arena since the last time the tournaments were held in the venue.
Reeves said Frankfort had been a great host. He’ll miss the convention center’s arena, which seated about 5,000 fans in a bowl, because both ends of the floor had “fan sections.” Only the “home” team gets use of such a section at McBrayer Arena, which seats about 6,500.
Tournament officials visited the Owensboro Sportscenter, a 5,000-seat venue where Kentucky Wesleyan College’s teams play, and thought it was “really nice,” Reeves said. Parking and hotel situations in both cities were about equal, but EKU’s more centralized location and familiarity helped put it over the top.
“Owensboro is great, but Eastern is Eastern,” Reeves said. “We’ve been there before. I love the atmosphere there.”