GRAND ISLAND, NY - Grand Island is the new home to the Gus Macker basketball tournament. The big event was held at Darien Lake last year after being held in downtown Buffalo for decades.
Organizers say 1,200 players were registered to play at the basketball tournament this weekend. About 282 teams signed up this year, compared to 402 teams that participated last year, when the event was held at Darien Lake. In 2013, 693 teams registered when the tournament was held in Buffalo.
Legislator Betty Jean Grant said, "The question was, why not move it back to Buffalo, because Buffalo was home for the tournament for the last 25 years." Grant wanted the Gus Macker tournament to come back to Buffalo, but she says a contract agreement could not be reached.
Back in 2012, violence erupted near Court Street at the 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament. Buffalo Police rushed in to break up fights and eight people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
This year, Legislator Betty Jean Grant organized Buff Hoops, so kids in Buffalo have some place to play. "We know that many of these children come from families that are struggling, that cannot afford the transportation going to Grand Island."
Organizers of the Gus Maker say bus transportation is an option, and there's a NFTA metro line that runs near the tournament location. "Being right in between Niagara Falls and Buffalo, it is such a perfect location to pull from all over Western New York," said event producer Cory McGowan.
McGowan says teams have also come from Ohio, Michigan and the Toronto area. "So I think this is the ideal location, for me. I'm attached for the next three years, and this will be the site for the future of the Gus Macker."
McGowan says next summer the tournament will not fall on the same day as Buff Hoops. The Gus Macker tournament will move back to June.