Maui Invitational Moves to the Mainland for 2020 Tournament

September 18, 2020, 11:29 AM HST · Updated September 19, 6:43 AM
Wendy Osher · 45 Comments
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Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Background file photo by Rodney S. Yap.

By Wendy Osher

The Maui Jim Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland for 2020, according to a tournament announcement.

For the first time ever, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and schedule changes announced by the NCAA, the Maui Jim Maui Invitational is planning to relocate to Asheville, North Carolina this year.

Games will be played at Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, operating under the guidance of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for mass gatherings.

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Tournament dates will be announced in the near future.

Maui Councilmember Riki Hokama, chair of the Council’s Healthy Families and Communities Committee which oversees the Department of Parks and Recreation, received confirmation earlier today from tournament owner KemperLesnik that this year’s edition will not take place on Maui.

“I realize that these are unprecedented times due to the ongoing pandemic, and I understand the very tough decision to relocate this year’s Maui Jim Maui Invitational,” said Hokama.

Hokama said KemperLesnik is committed to continuing to highlight Maui County during telecasts and promotion of the 2020 event.

“KemperLesnik has long been a tremendous partner of the County of Maui, and I support the Maui Invitational as it looks forward to a successful 2020 event and return to Maui in 2021,” said Hokama.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino also provided a statement saying, tournament officials notified the county that it would be relocating to North Carolina for this year only. “We understand that the decision was made after consultation with local and national health officials, participating schools, the NCAA, ESPN and other key partners. Tournament officials have told us that they will greatly miss coming to our islands, but will do their best to recreate Maui’s beauty during the telecast and promotion of the event set in North Carolina for this year.”

“I’m grateful to Tom Valdiserri and Maui Jim Maui Invitational staff for informing me of their decision Thursday and for making it clear this move is temporary, only for 2020. I appreciate that they have pledged to keep the Spirit of Maui alive in Asheville, North Carolina, and remind fans everywhere that this tournament’s true home is on Maui. We will miss the tournament, players, coaches and fans this year and welcome them back with open arms next year.”

The 37th edition of the nation’s premier early-season Tournament, was scheduled Nov. 23 to 25 at the Lahaina Civic Center in West Maui.   This year’s teams include Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

In 2018, the Maui Jim Maui Invitational attracted almost 7,000 visitors and generated $21.99 million in sales statewide. Since the Tournament’s inception in 1984, it has contributed more than $250 million to the local island economy, including more than $80 million in the last five years.

Mayor Victorino said depending on the year and the colleges involved with an average of between $18 million and $30 million of income and revenue produced as a result of the tournament. The mayor said the figure represents direct revenue, and does not represent the additional ancillary services that are known to exist.

Next year’s 2021 Maui Jim Maui Invitational field is set to feature Oregon, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Butler, Texas A&M, Houston, St. Mary’s and host Chaminade of Honolulu.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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