The City of Palms Classic high school basketball tournament will be moving back to where it began in 2016.
The Classic, which has been played at the 2,200-seat Bishop Verot High School’s John Nevins Gymnasium since it opened in 1994, will be moving to Florida SouthWestern State College’s 3,300-seat Suncoast Credit Union Arena in 2016, Bishop Verot boys basketball coach Matt Herting confirmed Wednesday.
The move formally will be announced at a news conference slated for 1 p.m. Thursday at FSW, where the first Classic was played in 1973. FSW was called Edison Community College back then, and the Classic consisted of nine regional teams before expanding to 16 teams and a national format in the mid-1980s.
Since then, more than 100 McDonald’s All-Americans and 60 future NBA players have taken part in the Classic, recognized as one of the nation’s premier boys high school basketball tournaments.
Officials from Classic Basketball, Inc., and FSW either could not be reached for comment or deferred comment until the news conference. Suncoast Arena, under construction, will be located on the corner of Summerlin Boulevard and Cypress Lake Drive and is slated to open in October 2016, in time for FSW’s men’s and women’s basketball seasons.
Herting said he would be sorry to see the tournament leave his school.
“It was great having it there,” Herting said. “Not just watching the basketball, but seeing a lot of old friends once a year there.
“It’s good news for FSW. We’re going to miss the tournament a lot. But like I said, at the end of the day, it’s a business decision for Classic Basketball, Incorporated.”
The 43rd annual Classic, and the 22nd and final one at Bishop Verot High, is slated for Dec. 18-23.
“I think it’s going to be really nostalgic for a lot of people, and I don’t mean just the Bishop Verot people,” Herting said. “A lot of people went there as kids and are now grown up. It will be a tournament where, for a lot of people, the memories will be so vivid. All the great funny stories will be coming back.”
Clark Francis, a recruiting analyst for Hoop Scoop, has visited the Classic annually all but two times since 1992.
“I don’t think it’s broke. I think one of the great things about the City of Palms Classic is the venue, the atmosphere, the ambiance. We’ll have to wait and see. It may turn out to be a great move.”
Other tournaments have made similar moves, Francis said, and it backfired in some ways.
“It didn’t have the same feel,” Francis said. “But you don’t know. One of the great things about City of Palms is the support they got from Bishop Verot. That’s part of why the City of Palms is so great, is because it has that incredible touch. But we just don’t know. Do they need a bigger venue? We’ll see what happens. I hope it turns out to be great. I hope it’s a win-win. They have managed to capture lightning in a bottle for a long time. Can they mess that up? Maybe. Who knows.”