Baha Mar Hoops will be making a return to the shores of The Bahamas for a second consecutive year, set for November 18-27, at the Baha Mar Convention Center.
The journey started with eight basketball teams under a different tournament name and location in 2017. This November, there will be 20 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I basketball teams in action during the event. They will play 28 games over the course of the 10 days. BD Global’s Vice President of International Affairs Josh Franklin said they want to keep growing sports tourism in The Bahamas.
“It is important to us that we continue to grow sports tourism here in The Bahamas and continue to drive heads in beds. We have a passion not only for basketball but for The Bahamas. We are excited to be here and to bring more teams,” Franklin said.
There will be eight women’s teams that will play in the Pink Flamingo Tournament, including four teams from the Southeast Conference (SEC). One of those teams, the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Rebels, is coached by Bahamian Yolett ‘Coach Yo’ McPhee-McCuin. Franklin said he and his team are always looking to bring Bahamian coaches and players home. The other three SEC teams are the University of Kentucky Wildcats, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the University of Missouri Tigers. The other four schools that will be in the Pink Flamingo Tournament are Dayton University, Virginia Tech, the University of Utah and Wake Forest University.
In the Bahamas Championship, teams like Oklahoma State University, the University of Central Florida, DePaul University and Santa Clara University will be in action.
The Nassau Championship will feature mid-major teams. Teams like the University of Vermont, Ball State University, Missouri State University, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the University of North Texas, San Jose State University, the University of Oakland and Long Beach State University will compete.
President of Baha Mar Graeme Davis said he is happy to see the event grow.
“It is thrilling for us to see it grow so quickly in popularity and, with the fan base, the players and the local community will have a tremendous opportunity to experience Baha Mar. It is a great opportunity to certainly showcase and grow the opportunity for sports tourism here in The Bahamas and certainly here at Baha Mar. We look forward to having this for many years to come,” Davis said.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg is hoping to see The Bahamas become a hub for Thanksgiving basketball.
“During the month of November, I do not know if persons are aware but The Bahamas is now becoming the greatest and the biggest sporting destination for basketball at Thanksgiving. There will be about 40 NCAA teams in The Bahamas between New Providence, Paradise Island and Bimini. The ministry will also be looking to have a Thanksgiving basketball tournament in Grand Bahama with American high school teams. We are going to continue to add to that. We are happy to advance and enhance our ‘Sports in Paradise’ brand through basketball,” Bowleg stated.
Senator Randy Rolle represented the Ministry of Tourism and thanked Jeff Rodgers for his efforts in helping to bring the event to The Bahamas.
“At the ministry, we are big on partnerships. There are 20 teams coming down and that means 20 different markets that will affect us at tourism. When college teams come down, they have large followings and that means a lot of heads in beds for us. We want to continue to grow those relationships and offer the marketing support that they bring along. We are excited about what is to come about this relationship,” Rolle said.
BD Global Sports also facilitated some summer tour events such as the University of Kentucky Wildcats playing exhibition games at Baha Mar from August 8-14. They will play national teams from Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and The Bahamas.