ST. THOMAS, USVI. – Basketball Travelers, the organizer of the Paradise Jam, announced Friday (Sept. 22) that the 2017 tournament will be moved from the U.S. Virgin Islands due to the damage suffered to the area by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. The tournament will be moved to a yet-to-be-determined location within the mainland United States, with the new site announced by Friday, Sept. 29.
The tournament, originally scheduled for Nov. 17-20 at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center on the island of St. Thomas, features a 2017 field of Wake Forest, Colorado, Drake, Drexel, Houston Liberty, Mercer and Quinnipiac.
“As a staff, it’s our responsibility to ensure the teams involved in this tournament are not negatively impacted from a safety perspective or a scheduling perspective,” said Jennifer Ashby, the Paradise Jam tournament director. “It’s also important to be aware that despite the importance of flight arrangements, hotel bookings, and basketball games, many people have suffered personal, emotional, and material damage from these storms.”
Despite efforts to keep the 2017 Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands and continued efforts by tournament staff to work through solutions, the infrastructure damage cause by both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria did not allow for the tournament to be hosted in the territory. After damage to St. Thomas made it impossible for teams, staff, and fans to be accommodated on the island, plans were set for the tournament to be held on St. Croix. However, Hurricane Maria caused infrastructure damage to the island Tuesday night, forcing tournament directors to evaluate other options.
After assessing the possibility of hosting the tournament back in St. Thomas with accommodations aboard a docked cruise ship, tournament directors determined it was the best possible option to relocate the 2017 Paradise Jam to the mainland United States. Each participating team in the field has been sent a request for proposal, offering each university the opportunity to bid to host the tournament.
Fans who purchased travel packages and tickets directly through the Paradise Jam website will be refunded the full value of their package price.
“We want to thank not only the teams, but also the fans, staff, and locals for their understanding with this difficult situation,” Ashby said. “We’ve organized the Paradise Jam for 17 years in St. Thomas and have developed close personal ties with the people in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This was not an easy decision. Many sleepless, tear-filled nights have been spent on this disaster and we continue to push forward emotionally and professionally. We feel we have made the best decision for everyone involved and will continue to have the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands in our prayers as they rebuild from these devastating storms.”
All game matchups and tournament structure will remain the same, but game times will change. The Demon Deacons are slated to play Drake in the first round of the tournament.