"While we have to move this year's Tournament off of Maui, we are determined to celebrate and honor the culture and traditions that make this event so special," says Tom Valdiserri, executive vice president of KemperSports LIVE, the operator of the Maui Invitational. "Throughout this process, we've seen the spirit of 'ohana in action. Thank you to Governor Josh Green, Hawai'i Tourism Authority, and Mayor Richard Bissen as well as the staff at Chaminade University of Honolulu and University of Hawai'i at Mānoa for working tirelessly with us to keep this year's Tournament in Hawai'i."
One of the most prestigious preseason tournaments in college basketball, the Maui Invitational is typically held Thanksgiving week at the Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Maui. But the city of Lahaina was devastated by the wildfire that broke out and destroyed homes, business and killed at least 115 people with hundreds missing.
Despite the destruction of several landmarks in historic Lahaina town, the Lahaina Civic Center was not damaged. However, it just recently opened up as a disaster recovery center, where residents affected by the fires can seek federal and state assistance and resources. Tournament officials wanted to give residents the space and time needed to recover from the wildfires.
The 2023 tournament will instead at SimpliFi Arena at Sheriff Center on the University of Hawai'i campus. The news was first reported by The Messenger.
Keeping the tournament on the islands allows the state to still receive tourism revenue, especially as government officials have encouraged tourists to return so they can spend money and help the region financially recover. Tournament officials launched the Hoops for 'Ohana online auction, offering college basketball memorabilia, surfboards, game tickets and gear. The auction will be open through Nov. 22, with all proceeds will go directly to wildfire relief and recovery efforts.
"We are disappointed that we could not make the Lahaina Civic Center available for the Maui Invitational this year, but we are thankful the Tournament is staying in Hawai'i," Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said."We appreciate everything the Maui Invitational is doing to help Maui and its residents."
2023 Maui Invitational
The 2023 edition of the tournament will begin Nov. 20-22 and all eight teams originally scheduled to play in the tournament will remain in it. The eight team field will consist of Chaminade, Tennessee, Syracuse, Purdue, Gonzaga, Kansas, UCLA and Marquette.
Tickets purchased for this year's tournament will be honored for the move to Oahu, and additional tickets will go on sale in October. Those who purchased travel packages will be offered similar packages on Oahu.
Maui Invitational history
The return to Honolulu will be somewhat of a homecoming for the tournament. In 1982, Chaminade, then an NAIA school, beat No. 1 Virginia in Honolulu – considered one of the greatest upsets in college basketball and the origin behind the tournament.
The Maui Invitational has been held every year since 1984, with Providence winning the inaugural tournament. The 2023 tournament will be the third time it will be held outside of Maui, as the 2020 and 2021 editions were held in Asheville, North Carolina, and Las Vegas due to COVID-19 restrictions in Hawaii. The tournament returned to Maui in 2022, with Arizona winning it.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2023 Maui Invitational relocating to Honolulu after deadly wildfires