An economic analysis of the 2023 Asheville Championship reveals more than 6,000 sports enthusiasts attended the two-day college basketball tournament held at Harrah’s Cherokee Center- Asheville, resulting in a substantial $2.3 million economic boost to our community. The event largely generated net new direct spending throughout Asheville, with nearly two-thirds of attendees identifying as visitors, according to Harrah’s Cherokee Center-Asheville.

“The Asheville Championship was born out of our community’s collective ability to work with KemperSports LIVE to host the Maui Invitational Tournament during the height of the pandemic in 2020,” said Vic Isley, President & CEO for Explore Asheville and the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority. “In just three years, the entertainment and economic benefits of Asheville Championship have grown in tandem — from the four impressive university programs participating to the $2.3 million in direct spending throughout local businesses. As title sponsor of the Asheville Championship, Explore Asheville would like to thank KemperSports LIVE, the team at ExploreAsheville.com Arena, our local sports commission, fellow sponsors, the many volunteers and fans that helped make this the most successful year yet.”

The Asheville Championship has quickly become the inaugural tip-off tournament for men’s basketball in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Positioned as a premier sporting event that marks the commencement of the men’s college basketball season, the tournament took place footsteps from the vibrant culinary, creative, and cultural offerings of downtown Asheville.

"This early season men’s college basketball championship places the ExploreAsheville.com Arena at Harrah’s Cherokee Center - Asheville and our community on national television highlighting Asheville for millions,” said Chris Corl, Director of Community & Regional Event Facilities at the City of Asheville. “We are humbled to do our part to annually produce high quality sporting events for our guests locally, regionally, and nationally."

Organized by KemperSports LIVE, the same group behind the Maui Jim Invitational, this four-team tournament unfolded Friday, Nov. 10, and Sunday, Nov. 12, showcasing the talents of college men’s basketball teams from the University of Maryland, Davidson College, Clemson University, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The strategic scheduling of matchups, along with the generous interval between tournament days, provided fans with ample opportunities to explore the creative spirit and outdoors of Asheville and Buncombe County. Many jersey-wearing fans were seen enjoying area restaurants, shops, and bars throughout the weekend.

"The Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission was delighted with the results of this year's Asheville Championship,” shared Chris Smith, Interim Director of the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission. “Fans were certainly entertained as all four games weren't decided until the final buzzer sounded, and aside from great on-court action, this year's tournament left a positive economic impact in our community. With great partners like Explore Asheville, Harrah's Cherokee Casino, and Ingles, the sky is the limit for high-quality college basketball in Asheville."

All games were broadcast and live streamed on ESPN networks, elevating Asheville’s profile as a town that not only embraces sports but demonstrates its capacity to host similar noteworthy events in the future. The event also provided customers to downtown businesses, bridging the fall foliage season and the forthcoming holiday season.

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