For the first time ever, provincial men’s high school basketball tournaments are taking place in Sault Ste. Marie. The community is hosting the 2016 Ontario Federation of School Athletics Association (OFSAA) Boys’ A Basketball Championships in 2016, followed by the OFSAA Boys’ AA Basketball Championships in 2017.
The 2016 event was secured by White Pines principal/coach Joey Turco, while the 2017 tournament was secured by Korah Collegiate vice-principal/coach Jeff Giovanatti. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie assisted with the development of both bid packages, which were submitted and later approved by OFSAA officials.
“We are excited to host an OFSAA basketball event again at White Pines,” said Turco. “In 2013, our school hosted a Girls’ A Championship, capturing gold – practically at the buzzer – and the excitement still resonates today. OFSAA is the pinnacle for high school athletes, and our boys can’t wait to host such a prestigious event in our gymnasium.”
These comments were echoed by Giovanatti. “The OFSAA Boys’ AA Basketball Championship has been in existence since 1968, so we were ecstatic to find out that our bid was successful, and the event is going to be hosted in this great city for the very first time,” he said. “I’m proud of our community, and we look forward to having hundreds of people come here in March of 2017 to see first-hand what a great place Sault Ste. Marie is – first class facilities, the pride, culture, hospitality, and we can’t forget the great food.”
The 2016 and 2017 OFSAA Boys’ Basketball Championships will attract several hundred visitors to the community, which will inject capital into the local economy. That’s precisely why Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the Economic Development Corporation, worked with White Pines and Korah Collegiate on securing the events.
“Hosting these tournaments, for the first time ever, is really a win-win situation for everyone,” said Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. “The local accommodations and economy in general benefit from the visitor spending, while our high school basketball players and coaches get a solid opportunity to compete at a high level in front of their hometown fans.”
Working with community groups to secure major conferences and sports tournaments is a key activity of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. Last year, 23 such events were held in the community, including the U-12 Provincial Ringette Championships, Grand Slam of Curling National, Ontario Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting, and the Muddy Moose Charge adventure race. In total, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie-supported events in 2014 generated 13,866 visitor days, $2.08 million in direct visitor spending, and million more in indirect and spin-off economic activity.