Star athletes from across the country are descending on Southwest Florida. The City of Palms Classic began Friday afternoon at Suncoast Arena.
Fans and business owners alike are excited for this year’s City of Palms Classic because the event was canceled last year due to COVID-19 concerns. And, this tournament is about so much more than basketball.
Dozens of high school basketball teams are playing in the City of Palms Classic Basketball Tournament.
Tristan Galvin says he’s here as a fan. “We’re gonna watch great high school basketball,” said Galvin.
John Gamble is here to support his son. “I’m here also watching my son as well. John the third. And he plays pretty good,” said Gamble.
77 NBA stars have played in this tournament since its inception. That’s why it’s called a “Classic.” Carmine Marceno is the Lee County Sheriff. “This gives the children a place to showcase their talent and possibly get into schools, which is life-changing,” said Marceno.
John Gamble of Port Charlotte, and his family, hope the tournament will bring good things to his son. “He has received so many offers from various colleges. And so this, this is very important for him, as well as us. So we are praying and hoping that yes, he does make it to the NBA,” said Gail Gamble.
Lee County itself is also a winner. John Naylor is the executive director of the City of Palms Classic. “We generate about 1000 room nights in this week. And our total hotel budget is roughly $65,000,” said Naylor.
The county is banking on families like the Galvins, who made it their family tradition, to spend money here. “He’s been coming since he was three, back when we’d like make about 15 minutes of the game. And now he can sit through two whole games,” said Tristan’s father, Terrence.
Not only does this showcase the next generation of basketball stars, but it shines the spotlight on first responders and health care heroes in our community.
Brian Hamman is a Lee County Commissioner. “Many of us wouldn’t be able to sleep safely at night if they weren’t out there watching out for us,” Hamman said.
The City of Palms Classic tournament runs until Wednesday, December 22.