The City Game focuses coverage on the game of basketball at the amateur levels in and around the city of Chicago
By Chris Pennant (@kwandarykitten)
Chicago’s Wintrust Arena will host the championship of The Basketball Tournament for the first time this August.
The tournament, an annual five-on-five hoops competition, will feature 64 teams comprised of former college and professional stars. Eight teams will host regional sites in Utah, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and New York. Those eight teams are automatically entered in the tournament, with the other 58 chosen during the March-June application period.
The eight finalists from each region will then travel to Wintrust Arena to compete for the $2 million winner-take-all prize.
The tournament began in 2014 with a $500,000 grand prize, which increased to $1 million the following year and doubled once again in 2016. The tournament also innovated the bracket advance ceremony now popular in the NCAA basketball tournament.
Former college players frequently create “alumni” teams to compete in the high stakes tournament. Recent alumni squads include Scarlet and Gray (Ohio State), Golden Eagles Alumni (Marquette), Always a Brave (Bradley) and Iowa United (Iowa), who will feature 2018-19 Naismith Award winner Megan Gustafson.
Chicago’s passion for college basketball was a main reason for moving this year’s finals to the Windy City.
“Chicago has one of the largest college alumni populations in the country, and reputation as a passionate sports town,” said TBT founder and CEO Jonathan Mugar in a statement. “By the time we get down to the eight teams in Chicago, teams will find themselves just three wins away from $2 million, so we know fans at Wintrust will be treated to a version of team-oriented, high stakes basketball they’ve never seen before.”
In addition to the basketball competition, Chicago will play host to the Puma Hoops Posterize Dunk Contest. The contest, which first took place at last year’s TBT finals, features contestants chosen from fan-submitted videos, as well as one dunker who will be selected at July’s ComplexCon 2019 at McCormick Place. Kids ages 9-14 can also enter a sweepstakes to participate in a youth basketball clinic.
Regional competition kicks off the weekend of July 19; Championship Week begins August 1. August 6’s championship game will be broadcast live on ESPN at 8 pm CDT.
Tickets and the clinic entry form can be found online at TBT’s website.
Chris Pennant covers professional basketball for WARR Media