Sports tournament could be a real ‘Slam Dunk’

A major basketball tournament could boost community morale and business, an organizer told the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce. Slam Dunk to the Beach will be revived this December at Cape Henlopen High School, giving southern Delaware a taste of wintertime sports tourism.

Every time a sports team travels, it brings parents, friends and maybe a few die-hard fans. They’re all buying lunch, dinner, gasoline, hotels and more.

“Sports tourism is one of the fastest growing travel industries,” said Giacomucci, executive director of the Delaware Sports Commission.

The nonprofit DSC bids, recruits and hosts regional sports tournaments, using Delaware facilities. That might be a softball tournament or the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament Quarterfinals at University of Delaware.

“As you bring in the event, you bring in out-of-state visitors, and those visitors spend money,” Giacomucci said.

Moreover, he called the effects of athletes and branding on the community “fascinating.”

Giacomucci called Slam Dunk to the Beach “a great story of Delawareans who felt this tournament brought a great brand to Sussex County, especially in the off-season.”

Position Sports will help run the actual tournament, which in its original incarnation ran annually from 1990 to 2003, drawing high school players who included some of today’s top NBA stars.

From Dec. 27 to 29, there will be six games daily between 16 teams, including Delaware’s Cape Henlopen, St. George’s, Sanford, Caesar Rodney and Salesianum.

Giacomucci said he hopes they’ll utilize the local businesses for shopping, meals and more. Also, ESPN3 will broadcast a game online, he said.

When directly asked about the impact 15 miles away, in Millsboro, Giacomucci spoke in broader terms. That means “the branding this event will bring to Sussex County. … Also, exposure for the Chamber or businesses.” There is still room for business sponsorships and program ads.

Hosting such an event also ups community pride, he said.

Of the idea of other events in west and central Sussex County, he said, “We try our best to focus on all three counties.” That includes working with good venues and sports complexes.

Although it’s a smaller tournament than in past years, spectators should see some incredible court skills, like “a guy who just committed to Kentucky. We’re expecting to see four of the top 30 teams in the country,” from New York, Ohio, Kansas, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Tickets to the tournament are available online at People can buy single-day tickets, but the first 100 buyers of three-day passes get a voucher for a free T-shirt.