The Gus Macker Tournament moved from Driver’s Village to the parking lot of the high school in 2015 after the expansion of the car dealership. While the relocation meant better visibility, closer proximity to the CanTeen itself and a better space overall for the event, it did have a major downside: sponsorship revenue declined by 41 percent between 2014 and 2015.
Starting this Friday, hundreds of athletes from around the country will descend upon the town of Cicero in preparation for the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the area.
The Gus Macker tournament begins the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 11, and runs through Sunday. The proceeds from the seventh annual event will benefit the CanTeen teen center. It’s the center’s largest annual fundraiser, having raises about $120,000 since tournament director Julie LaFave brought it to Central New York in 2010 after state budget cuts threatened the program.
This year’s event, which will take place at Cicero-North Syracuse High School on Route 31, will include more than 170 teams.
While the last few years have been tough financially — sponsorships have dropped off since the tournament moved from Driver’s Village to C-NS — LaFave and CanTeen Executive Director Toni Brauchle are, as always, optimistic about the future.
New sponsors have stepped up to keep the tournament going, including Cumulus Radio and Sun Auto Warehouse, which is this year’s Presenting Partner.
Brauchle said Sun owner Todd Caputo stepped into the void when the CanTeen was in dire straits as former sponsors Driver’s Village and Price Chopper moved on to other local causes.
“Sun Auto Warehouse has been a sponsor on a lower level,” she said. “Mr. Caputo listened carefully as we described the need for the funds to support The CanTeen. He asked lots of questions and could fully comprehend and could relate to how passionate we are about supporting the youth of the community.”
But for this weekend, the money takes a backseat to the fun. The event kicks off Friday with a chicken barbecue hosted by Cicero Fire Department, followed by a corporate tournament and competitions between North Syracuse school district teachers and administrators. In addition to the regular 3-on-3 games, Saturday’s activities include opening ceremonies, a Mascot Game and performances by the Macker Girls dancers. Things wrap up Sunday with a championship game. All the while, vendors will be on-site to provide food, drinks and goods to participants and spectators.
“Our event is much more than just a basketball tournament. We actually call it a basketball festival,” LaFave said. “People come from around the state and the country for the competition on the courts.”
For more information, visit macker.com/local/cicero-ny or find them on Facebook.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.