The Cayman Islands Classic NCAA preseason basketball tournament began Monday, bringing some of the best college basketball talent in the United States to Cayman’s shores.

New Mexico State senior guard Shunn Buchanan drives to the basket during the first half of the Aggies’ 78-70 win over Colorado State Monday in the first game of the 2019 Cayman Islands Classic. – Photo: Kevin Morales

But talent is not all it’s set to bring.

The business behind preseason basketball tournaments can prove to be lucrative for the destination, teams, broadcasters and, eventually, the tournament organisers.

The Maui Invitational – arguably the most widely known of all preseason tournaments – generated US$17.2 million for the island during its 2015 event, according to the Hawiian Tourism Authority. Government leaders in the Bahamas have pegged the economic value of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament at close to US$25 million.

The economic impact of last year’s tournament in Cayman is estimated at more than US $2 million, according to a spokesperson for the tournament. On top of that, roughly 1.1 million people last year watched livestream broadcasts of the tournament on Facebook.

The tournament “offers significant economic and promotional benefits” to Cayman, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said during a May press conference. “The Cayman Islands has earned a reputation for being a premier sports tourism destination.”

Kirkconnell looks for those figures to increase going forward and says it’s good value for money considering his ministry put $75,000 toward the tournament.

“If we get 2,000 people that come and each one of them spends 2,000 dollars, we believe that this is a tremendous success,” he said.

If those figures are met, that’s a $4 million boost in local spend during a time of year where there’s traditionally a dip in Cayman’s stayover visitor numbers.

That doesn’t include the monetary value of marketing and promotion that come with international streaming rights.

“This tournament brings some of the leading US men’s college basketball teams to our shores and delivers significant economic and promotional benefits to our island,” Kirkconnell said. “Last year, millions of active users were able to tune-in via Facebook’s extensive streaming network, proving the Cayman Islands with tremendous global exposure.”

Tournament organisers are bullish on viewership numbers as this year’s tournament, which will once again will be streamed on Facebook.

“If we had 1.1 million (views) last year, I know this year we’re gonna pass that 2 million [mark],” said Victor O’Garro, Cayman’s basketball technical director and president of Caymax sports, the business entity that owns the tournament.

The tournaments involve benefits for the participating teams as well, who need to pay to play.

A freedom of Information request in Nevada from Nevada Sports Net revealed the University of Nevada has signed on to play in the 2020 edition of the Cayman Islands Classic. The Wolfpack will be provided with 14 hotel rooms and one suite for five nights, one rental car for staff and one meeting room for five days free of charge as well as $1,500 in food and beverage credit. These benefits are provided by the tournament.


Nevada will pay the tournament US$70,000 for the first-round game, which is played in Nevada before the team arrives in Cayman. The school will also receive 25 tournaments gifts, although details on what those gifts would be were not released. The Wolfpack would owe the tournament US$140,000 if it pulled out of the event. 

Day 1 recap

New Mexico State 78, Colorado State 70

Redshirt sophomore guard Jabair Rice came off the bench tying a career high with 21 points — including 12 in overtime— as New Mexico State held off Colorado State, 78-70 in the opening round of the third annual Cayman Islands Classic at John Gray Gymnasium Tuesday afternoon.

South Florida 66, Loyola 56

South Florida held Loyola of Chicago without a basket for the last 10 minutes 27 seconds en route to a 66-56  come-from-behind victory in the quarterfinal round of the third annual Cayman Islands Classic tournament Monday at the John Gray Gymnasium, according to a tournament press release.

Guards David Collins and Laquincy Rideau scored 21 and 17 points, respectively, for USF while igniting the second-half rally.

Clinging to a 48-45 lead following a three-point basket from Tate Hall, Loyola would closed out the game missing its final eight shots, while committing five turnovers.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.