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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Kingdom of the Sun Basketball Tournament seeking tourism grant for December return

A basketball tournament with a rich history in Marion County that was forced to postpone its event last year because of COVID-19, is asking for a tourism grant to help continue the over 40-year tradition. 

The Kingdom of the Sun Basketball Tournament will return to Vanguard High School this winter. The organization will make the request for a tourism grant to the Marion County Tourist Development Council during its regular meeting on Thursday, July 22.

The event, which is held at the high school located at 7 NW 28th Street, is eligible for $4,000 of funding, according to records with the Ocala/Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau. 

The total sales of the event are estimated at over $250,000, with a total return on investment of 31%. 

“The Kingdom of the Sun Basketball Tournament is one of the longest running high school boys’ basketball tournaments in the country,” reads the organization’s application with the bureau. “It has been around for over 40 years and was started by the late Jim Haley.”

The event spans four days and displays “top basketball talent” over the course of a 28-game tiered playoff. 

This year’s tournament will feature teams from all over Florida and the United States, including Maine, Illinois, New Jersey, and Georgia. 

The four-day event is expected to generate attendance of over 5,000 people, with a minimum hotel room occupancy around the area of at least 300. 

If the Marion County Tourist Development Council approves the grant, its recommendation will be given to the Marion County Board of County Commissioners. 

The Marion County Tourist Development Council makes recommendations for the effective use of tourist development tax revenue to enhance, promote, advertise and develop tourism in Ocala and Marion County.

Those recommendations may be accepted, or refused, by the Marion County Board of County Commissioners.

The council meets at 10 a.m. at the Visitors and Convention Bureau, which is located at 109 W. Silver Springs Boulevard, on the following Thursdays through the end of the year: July 22, August 26, September 23, October 28, and November 18, 2021.