CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach Invitational organizers had a second chance at a first impression. Hosting a relocated Puerto Rico Tip-Off in 2017, CCU, ESPN Events and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (MBACC) staff say this years tourney benefited from a strong foundation.
“We we’re very pleased with the inaugural Myrtle Beach Invitational," began Jonathan Paris, Sports Tourism Director with MBACC. “We’ve got a great group and we’re going to continue to build off of 2018 going into 2019.”
Organizers say established, big name programs help lure fans to the HTC Center. For the tourney’s inaugural year, the West Virginia Mountaineers were the draw and their fans filled the seats from November 15-18.
“Their fans we’re loud,” Paris said. “Myrtle Beach and West Virginia have a strong connection.”
Moving into 2019, officials say the chemistry between the three-organizing bodies will be crucial to another successful tourney.
“Its an example of how sports tourism can work. Everyone plays an important role,” began Coastal Carolina Athletic Director Matt Hogue. “ESPN has the content and the events, the Chamber steps up and has the resources to be able to bring those events to this area. And obviously we’re the last piece of the puzzle because we actually have the facility that meets the demand and quality expectations of the event.”
“It’s really a great synergy between the three [organizing bodies],” Hogue finished.
“We work with great folks at Myrtle Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Chamber,” said Pete Derzis, VP of College Sports Programming for ESPN Events.
“All of the ingredients are here for a successful event.”
The Myrtle Beach Invitational has a 6-year agreement in place with CCU and the MBACC. The 2019 field includes the reigning national champion Villanova Wildcats and a little home cooking; the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.
“I think it’s always great when we have a local team playing,” Paris said. “We’re hoping that some of our local fans show up to support the team and the tournament.”