Maui News

Maui Jim Maui Invitational Moves to Las Vegas in 2021 Due to Pandemic Protocols in Hawai‘i

By Wendy Osher
October 2, 2021, 7:07 AM HST
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Maui Jim Maui Invitational. File photo by Rodney S. Yap.

The Maui Jim Maui Invitational basketball tournament will relocate to Las Vegas, due to the ongoing pandemic, travel restrictions, and COVID-19 protocols in Hawaiʻi, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino announced.

The 2021 event will be held at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Nov. 22-24, instead of its traditional spot at the Lahaina Civic Center in West Maui.

“I want to thank the event organizers, KemperLesnik and their Vice President Tom Valdiserri for their patience and understanding over the past weeks and months as we monitored the public health developments together,” said Mayor Victorino. “We appreciate Maui’s partnership with them and we look forward to their return to their home court here on Maui in 2022,” he said.

“Maui is our Tournament home, which is why we are disappointed that the current state COVID-19 restrictions will not allow us to host the Maui Jim Maui Invitational there this year,” said Tom Valdiserri, Executive Vice President of KemperLesnik, the operator of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in a tournament press release. “We determined that if we could not travel to Maui, the next best place to go was Las Vegas, Hawaiʻi’s Ninth Island.”

“Those who have already purchased tickets can get a full refund, and all fans will have a chance to buy tickets to attend the event in Nevada,” said Mayor Victorino. “Tom has assured me that the tournament long-term commitment to Maui’s roots and plans to return to Maui for many years to come.

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“I’m excited about this change because it does take off the burden of trying to do what we cannot guarantee over the next 60 days, and to move equipment, to get other issues settled. If they didn’t get started now, they wouldn’t be able to get it done,” said Mayor Victorino.

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The mayor said he will be leading a group to Las Vegas for the tournament. “I don’t want to lose the essence of Maui. Last year they played in North Carolina. It looked kind of funky–a Maui tournament in North Carolina. Las Vegas is a lot closer to us,” said Mayor Victorino.

“Most importantly, I want to say ‘mahalo’ to the sponsor, Maui Jim, who has really stood behind us all of these years, and we know will make us proud in Las Vegas,” said Mayor Victorino.

According a tournament update, matchups will feature Wisconsin against Texas A&M, with Houston vs Butler in the top half of the bracket. In the bottom half of the bracket, Oregon will face Chaminade, and St. Mary’s will go up against Notre Dame.

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“We know how important these early season opportunities are for our teams, as they often set the tone for their seasons,” said Coach Dave Odom, Tournament Chairman. “We look forward to bringing that signature ‘Maui Magic’ to the city of Las Vegas until we return to the island next year.”
 
Health and safety guidelines for all attendees will be mandated by the Tournament and will include proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test prior to games beginning as well as a mask mandate inside the arena.
 
Ticket information for the relocation will be available soon at mauiinvitational.com.

All 12 games will be televised on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU, and will also be available on the ESPN App.

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