THE ISSUE: The King Cotton basketball Tournament.
THE IMPACT: Although this tournament could have a large economic impact on the city, many contend that Pine Bluff isn’t prepared for such an event.
The Pine Bluff Civic Auditorium Complex Commission voted Tuesday against hosting the King Cotton basketball tournament at the Pine Bluff Convention Center in 2017 after hearing Go Forward Pine Bluff CEO Ryan Watley discuss his reservations. The King Cotton Holiday Classic was a nationally renown high school basketball tournament held in Pine Bluff. It was founded by Travis Creed, a bank executive from Pine Bluff, in 1982 and continued until 1999.
Watley came to the meeting after being invited by the commission.
“The community is not ready based on the amount of amenities that we offer, the prevalent blight, the relationship between the Plaza Hotel and the Convention Center, and the need for upgrades on both of those,” Watley said. “And part of our mission is to make Pine Bluff a point of destination. If these conditions are present, once tourists and tournament participants arrive, they will not be impressed with the aforementioned conditions.”
Tournament organizer Chris Norris did not attend the meeting. He said his group will host the King Cotton Classic from Dec. 21, 2017, to Dec. 23, 2017, at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.
“It will happen with or without the city of Pine Bluff support or the Go Forward support. We are getting a bunch of grief,” Norris said. “We are paying from our pockets. I will cash in my 401K to bring the King Cotton tournament back to Pine…
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