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City of Little Rock Public Relations
Office (501) 371-4421
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
REAL DEAL COMES TO THE ROCK
National High School Basketball Tournament to Bring Thousands to Little Rock in April 2009
(Wednesday, August 27, 2008) – The best of the nation’s high school basketball players will be coming to Little Rock when Real Deal in the ROCK takes place from April 17-19, 2009.
Tournament Director and founder Bill Ingram made the announcement at a press conference where he was joined by Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola and other civic leaders and basketball fans.
Real Deal in the ROCK promises to bring over 350 teams and more than 5,000 players from over 40 states. According to Ingram, 90% of the top 100 ranked players in the United States will be in Little Rock for the tournament.
“With all those players, we also draw the top coaches and scouts from the NCAA and the NBA,” noted Ingram.
The Jack Stephens Center at UALR will serve as the main venue for Real Deal in the ROCK, but games will also be played on 55 other courts in Little Rock. There will be over 850 games played during the tournament.
“We are thrilled to have Real Deal in the ROCK coming to Little Rock,” said Mayor Stodola. “When I created the Mayor’s Tourism Committee earlier this year, this was exactly the type of high caliber tourism opportunity I was hoping could be cultivated.”
Ingram has been involved in youth basketball for many years as a coach and tournament director. “I love the sport of basketball, and I love giving outstanding young athletes the opportunity to play the best teams and be seen by the best coaches in the USA,” Ingram said.
“I am based here in Little Rock,” Ingram noted. “After four years, because of the challenges of planning a major tournament located elsewhere, I started thinking about the opportunity to move “Real Deal” here to my home, to Little Rock, to The Rock.”
“As we have seen in the past few years, sports tourism in Little Rock has become a big draw,” noted Tourism Committee Chair Bob Lanford. “From basketball to taekwondo, from the Little Rock Marathon and biking to tennis and fishing, sports tourism in Little Rock draws not only participants, but also spectators to come to Little Rock. While here, the participants and visitors not only spend time, but they also spend money.”
Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Dan O’Byrne echoed Mayor Stodola and Lanford. “Because of our past experience in hosting national sporting events, Little Rock is gaining a reputation as a great location for sports. In addition to fine venues, we offer numerous attractions and warm hospitality,” O’Byrne noted.
“When we were approached to partner with Real Deal in the ROCK, it was an easy decision to make,” O’Byrne continued. “The benefits include thousands of visitors to Little Rock staying in hotels and eating at restaurants, the opportunity for Little Rock and all of Central Arkansas to see the best high school basketball players from the country in action, and national media exposure.
Sponsors for Real Deal in the ROCK include the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau. According to tournament organizers, more sponsors will be announced in the coming months.
“This is an exciting day for Little Rock,” noted Tourism Committee member David Bazzel. “When you bring over 10,000 fans and 5,000 players to the City, it creates an enthusiasm that will spread throughout Little Rock, beyond Central Arkansas, into the entire state.”