All-A basketball tournament changes venues, draws thousands to Richmond

On Sunday, the All-A-Classic basketball competition wrapped up a successful weekend at its new home in Richmond. This comes just days after demolition began on the tournament's old venue, the Frankfort Convention Center.

While cheerleaders and students brought the noise at various games, Madison County businesses also have a lot to cheer for. The basketball packed weekend drew about 20,000 people from all over the Commonwealth.

"We deal with all the hotels, so they are thrilled to have this wonderful business," explained Richmond Tourism director Laura Murphy Tatum. She says this is just year one of a three-year contract to host the All-A-Classic at EKU's Alumni Coliseum.

The competition between Kentucky's smallest schools included 32 teams, who packed local restaurants and hotels while they were off the court.

"Most of our hotels on Wednesday and Thursday [were] filled, we actually even used hotels in Berea," said Tatum.

Richmond Mayer Jim Barnes says it's too soon to talk numbers,"We don't really know yet, I mean, until this is over with we won't know." However, the crowds looked promising.

"It has been a wonderful economic impact to our community, especially at a time in January, where you don't have a lot of traffic," said Tatum.

In the long run, Barnes thinks the tournament could boost enrollment at EKU, which also impacts the city's economy. "We've got all the young people coming on campus and hope they'll come to the university. Plus, it just brings a lot of life and activity in the community," said Barnes.

Richmond hopes to bring other All-A tournaments and competitions to EKU in the future, such as golf and volleyball.

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