Macker bouncing back to county
JAMESTOWN — Three news publications in the area are resurrecting a Jamestown tradition 20 years after it was first begun.
This summer, The Post-Journal, the OBSERVER and the Times Observer of Warren, Pa., will host the return of the Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament to downtown Jamestown — with Media One Group acting as media sponsor for the event.
The Gus Macker tournament was previously held in and around the downtown Jamestown area by The Resource Center for nearly two decades, starting in 1997. After a few years in which The Resource Center had dropped its Gus Macker affiliation and hosted an in-house basketball tournament known as Street Jam, the tournament itself was put on hiatus and no official basketball tournament was held last year.
According to Michael Bird, publisher of The Post-Journal, the area newspapers agreed this year to team up and host a tournament for the 2017 season with the original Gus Macker brand.
“The papers decided to pick up where The Resource Center left off and bring Gus Macker back to Jamestown, where it has a 19-year history,” Bird said. “So we’re resurrecting the tournament this year.”
Bird said the tournament will be held Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3, along Third Street between its intersections with Washington and Monroe streets — which incorporates the Northwest Arena. The papers have worked alongside city officials in order to ensure that the tournament will take place as scheduled with the proper safety precautions in place.
Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi said the city will act as an “in-kind sponsor” in the sense that it will divert non-financial resources to the tournament.
“As both mayor of Jamestown and co-chair of the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation Board of Directors, we are thrilled that Macker is coming back to the streets of downtown Jamestown, where it belongs,” Teresi said. “It’s a good, wholesome, family-oriented community event that draws thousands of people; and, in the process, it does some good for the community because there’s always a giveback to a local charity or community organization.”
Teresi added that the event, which has been seen to draw between 8,000 and 10,000 people downtown in the past, has presented very few problems for the city during its previous incarnations. Additionally, he said, it was one of the more well-attended and well-organized events to have been held in the downtown area.
Bird, who will serve as co-director of the tournament along with Chris Dole, said 20 percent of the net proceeds will be donated to the Alex Foulk Fund. The fund was created by Kim Carlson, who is also the founder of A Fresh Start – an advocacy, grassroots group of volunteers dedicated to providing encouragement and support through personal experiences for those suffering directly or indirectly with substance abuse disorders, including drug addiction and alcoholism.
Other proceeds will also be donated to various volunteer organizations that will be helping out at the event.
The Gus Macker tournament is designed so that anyone can play: male or female, young and old, short and tall, and at all levels of experience. Teams are computer-matched into male and female divisions within one of the following categories: junior, adult or top. The age, height and experience of all players are considered. Registered officials will be on-hand at every court to referee each game.
Bird said he wanted to thank Vicky Bardo, formerly of The Resource Center, for bringing The Gus Macker tournament to Jamestown in 1997 and supervising it the succeeding years.
“(Vicky) really laid the groundwork years ago, and established this event in this area,” Bird said. “She did a phenomenal job all those years, and we’re really riding on the coattails of what she established. It makes it a lot easier to organize an event that was already here for years, and run well, because everybody is well-aware of what to do and how to do it.”
Teresi also extended his gratitude to The Resource Center for hosting and cultivating the Gus Macker brand in Jamestown for many years.
“I give credit to The Post-Journal for picking this up and continuing the tradition; but also to The Resource Center for starting this event, developing it and demonstrating its value to the community for 19 straight years,” he said. “Had they not done that, we wouldn’t have anything to build upon with this year’s tournament.”
The registration fee for the event is $136 per team, with a mail-in deadline of May 12 and an online deadline of May 15. Online registrations can be completed by visiting macker.com. Team registrations forms will be available in each newspaper building or the form can be downloaded with this article at observertoday.com.
Bird said there are still plenty of sponsorship opportunities for local businesses, as well as volunteer opportunities for those interested in helping out. Interested parties can contact Bird at The Post-Journal by calling 487-1111, ext. 201.