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Belfast’s new Lord Mayor and Sport Changes Life team up to launch the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic

June 14th, 2017

Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister celebrates her first full week as Belfast’s new First Citizen by teaming up with the Sport Changes Life Foundation to launch the upcoming Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic.  The Classic will celebrate the partnership with Belfast City Council (Belfast CC) to facilitate this large-scale sporting event in Northern Ireland’s capital.  Taking place on 1st and 2nd December 2017 at the SSE Arena Belfast, with official airline partner Aer Lingus, Belfast will welcome four American universities and their alumni delegates to a welcome dinner, as the City of Belfast hosts the first of its kind competitive collegiate basketball tournament outside of America.

Featuring teams from well-known American sporting universities across the USA including Manhattan College, from the Belfast Classic Partner the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), as well as College of the Holy Cross, La Salle University and Towson University.  The two day tournament will attract thousands of basketball enthusiasts from across Ireland, Britain and further afield as they gather to learn more about the quickly-growing sport and support their favourite American university teams.

Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister remarked “Belfast’s reputation continues to grow for hosting world class sporting events. We have held the World Police and Fire Games, the Giro D ’Italia, Friendship Four Ice Hockey tournament, World Series of Ice Hockey, World Amateur Boxing Championships, World Cross Country Championships and now we can look forward to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic. It’s going to be a fantastic spectacle, and the action packed weekend will have something for everyone to enjoy. All those who attend will witness competitive end-to-end action, with lots of in game entertainment on show as well. The positive impact on our local economy and tourism will be boosted by those travelling to support the visiting colleges, and we will roll out our great Belfast welcome. I look forward to an exciting weekend of sporting action. My theme for the year is ‘Global Belfast’ and this gives us another excellent opportunity to strengthen Belfast’s links with America.”

Gareth Maguire, CEO of Sport Changes Life Foundation (SCL), said “We are really excited to have the Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic here in my home city. It will bring great energy to Belfast as we welcome hundreds of American student athletes, their supporters, and College alumni following their teams to watch them play in this historic tournament in Belfast.  Belfast CC has been a key partner with our core work in our community outreach programme eHOOPS, Schools Honour Roll programme, and working with transient youth across Belfast.  This event is another step in providing a life changing experience for our young people.”

Basketball is a sport on the rise across the island of Ireland and SCL has worked to improve the level of the game locally. A number of young people attending the launch event have participated in SCL’s pioneering eHOOPS and Honour Roll programmes. These programmes engage with 14 – 25 year olds experiencing educational, economic and social deprivation and bring them together through sport, education and an individual personal development. The programmes led by SCL’s Victory Scholars act as mentors to build self-confidence, inspire, and empower the participants involved. Gareth said “Through our founding partners, Ulster University and Chaka Travel (and more recently our exciting partnership with the Rory Foundation), we have worked for 10 years across Ireland to develop basketball at a grassroots level and introduce the sport to young people to raise aspirations and build confidence and team work, which young people can carry with them into their futures.”

Marc Mulholland, Executive Director of the Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic, added “To celebrate this great partnership with Belfast CC, we have created a special group discount available for groups of over 10 people booking in advance of the event in December. We want this event to be accessible to all ages, families, youth groups, schools and sports clubs and look forward to these groups joining in on our excitement as we welcome our American universities to Belfast and show them that there is no better crowd of sports fans.”

How to book for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic

Tickets are available via Ticketmaster – all day tickets cost from £16 per adult, £11.50 for child tickets and family tickets start at £42.

For more information on the Classic visit www.belfastbasketballclassic.com or follow the event on Facebook.com/belfastbasketballclassic, Twitter @BelfastClassic and Instagram @BelfastBasketballClassic