By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
March Magic Hoopfest will return to Jenison Field House for this weekend’s MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals, with extended hours and a Project UNIFY tournament highlighting the ninth championship weekend the event has run concurrent with the games being played at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.
Up to 10 Special Olympics Project UNIFY teams will take part in a tournament played during the afternoons of March 22 and 23. Unified teams put special education students on the court participating in concert with their general education peers. Lineups must consist of three unified student athletes and two unified student partners on the floor at all times.
Games will be played on the two Hoopfest center courts. On March 24, the center courts will host a number of “JumpBall Jamboree” games made up of teams of boys and girls in grades 3-8.
A number of other favorite attractions will return including slam dunk (on lowered rims), 3-point shootout and half-court shot areas where fans can visit at any time and participate, and the festivities also will include a court for timed “Around the World” shooting games and another court featuring a skills challenge. Also returning is the Walk of History, showcasing championship games, life-size photos and display boards from throughout the MHSAA Finals’ near century-long run.
Hoopfest again also will be home to Hoopie, the event’s mascot who made his first public appearances during the 2014 MHSAA Finals.
Admission to the March Magic Hoopfest is $2 per person, and fans attending the MHSAA Boys Basketball Semifinals and Finals will be admitted free with their game tickets. Hours on March 22 and 23 will be 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.; the event is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 24. Jenison Field House, site of Hoopfest, also was the site of the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals for 31 years. To find out general information about the event, visit the March Magic Hoopfest website.
The March Magic Hoopfest is conducted in partnership between the Greater Lansing Sports Authority (GLSA), a division of the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the MHSAA, with vital support coming from the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at Michigan State University.
“Hoopfest is not just for kids, but the kid in all of us,” MHSAA Director of Brand Management Andy Frushour said. “The adults who stop in seem to love it as much as their children. There are basketball hoops everywhere, and with all of the different games to try it’s like being back on the playground.”
The Greater Lansing Sports Authority’s mission is to be the leading voice of sports tourism in the Greater Lansing area and to promote economic growth by attracting a diverse range of sporting events to the region. The GLSA strives to enhance the quality of life for area residents through the development of local sports and fitness programs for all ages, and supports the continued development and maintenance of safe, high-quality athletic facilities.
“Hoopfest has become the must-attend event for spectators of the MHSAA Tournament,” said Meghan Ziehmer, Associate Director of the Greater Lansing Sports Authority. “With games geared for all ages and abilities, the young and young-at-heart can play before, between and after sessions. With activities like the skills challenge, 3-point shooting contest and lowered rims to show off your athletic prowess, there is no shortage of fun activities.”
PHOTO: Hoopie takes the Breslin Center court during 2013-14 MHSAA Girls Basketball Finals.