The 62nd All Native Basketball Tournament, held in Prince Rupert, has been cancelled for 2021 leaving the future of the tournament in question due to financial uncertainty, Peter Haugan event organizer said on Dec. 29.
The tournament which draws spectator crowds of more than 3,000 and players from across North America was initially planned for Feb.7 to 13, 2021 at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre. For the tournament to run as originally planned the pandemic situation would need to change by January 1st, which isn’t going to happen, Haugan said.
The decision to cancel the tournament was an easy one due to the provincial restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. The 11 member board of directors’ is keeping the health and safety of the public first and foremost.
“There is nobody on the board who said we should wait a little longer or maybe we should try to see if we could have the tournament or not. Not one person. It was a unanimous decision.”
Haugan said postponing the tournament until a later date or a COVID-19 vaccine is available is not an option as teams need notice to start practicing in January for the tournament which falls within the basketball season.
“Tournaments in the summertime haven’t done too well,” Haugan said. “Basketball season runs until March. After that, everything shuts down and everyone goes about their business for the rest of the year getting ready to start up again in September.”
The team qualifying round of the tournament was scheduled for November 2020 and was cancelled, Haugan said, so even if qualifiers and the tournament could be postponed the organization still has issues and concerns to overcome.
“The tournament still has problems here, because our biggest source of income is ticket sales. Without a tournament we won’t have any money coming in to pay bills,” Haugan said.
Haugan previously said in an October interview with Black Press that ticket sales generate three-quarters of the income and the tournament still has costs even if it doesn’t go ahead.
The tournament needs to have about $30,000 to $35,000 just to pay the basics. There are fixed costs such as rent that still need to be paid for, he said. The new professional-grade portable floor, which is laid over the ice at the arena, cost more than $200,000, new portable baskets cost $75,000, and seating for the main gym cost $35,000 which all still need to be paid for.
The tournament costs between $250,000-$300,000 per year. It is a financial generator for local businesses in the community with restaurants, accommodation providers, and entertainment establishments all benefiting from the sports event.
“It will affect a lot of businesses in Prince Rupert if the tournament doesn’t go ahead,” Haugan said previously. “There will be a lot of lost income.”
With the tournament having such longevity in the region and community support behind it, currently, Haugan is in the process of reaching out to the event sponsors and various organizations to see if financial assistance will be available to carry the tournament organization through the difficult year, he said. Anyone wishing to sponsor can contact him.
“We’ve gone through all kinds of different pandemics and what-have-you, and we’ve always survived,” Haugan said. “But you always have to err on the side of caution. We are definitely not going to have a tournament where we have a chance of an outbreak of COVID.”