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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Feb. 28, 2024

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Reports: Maui Invitational will relocate to Oahu in wake of devastating wildfires

Gonzaga part of the eight-team field

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The Lahaina Civic Center won’t host 2023 Maui Invitational games in the wake of devastating wildfires that spread through the region last month, but the high-profile college basketball tournament will still have a home on the Hawaiian islands this November.

According to multiple reports, the Maui Invitational, which will host Gonzaga as part of a particularly strong eight-team field this fall, will relocate to Honolulu and SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center — a much larger venue on the University of Hawaii’s main campus in Oahu.

The Messenger first reported the venue change, and it was later confirmed by The Athletic. Both reports indicated an official announcement from tournament organizers could come by the end of the week.

The Stan Sheriff Center seats up to 10,300 fans for sporting events, which makes it an ideal venue for a major college basketball tournament featuring a handful of the sport’s powerhouse programs, such as Gonzaga, Kansas, UCLA, Purdue, Syracuse, Tennessee and Marquette.

The event’s traditional host venue, Maui’s Lahaina Civic Center, holds 2,400 people. The structure avoided wildfire damage according to reports, but tournament organizers ultimately decided to relocate in order to give Maui residents time and space to recover from a disaster that killed more than 100 people and left dozens still missing.

In order to accommodate 12 Maui Invitational games over three days, the University of Hawaii needed to move around Rainbow Warrior men’s basketball games previously scheduled there.

The venue’s location and proximity to the popular Waikiki Beach area also makes it conducive for traveling fans, who’ll have a variety of lodging options available in the area.

The Zags open tournament play against Purdue at 5 p.m. PT on Nov. 20 — a rematch of last year’s Phil Knight Legacy semifinal matchup in Portland — and would face either Tennessee or Syracuse the following day. Gonzaga could see one of four teams on the other side of the Maui bracket on Nov. 22, including Kansas, Marquette, UCLA and Chaminade.

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