Asheville’s NBA-inspired basketball bubble

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Last week, we reported that sports officials were deciding between Asheville + Indianapolis as the location for the upcoming Maui Jim Maui Invitational (often called simply Maui Invitational). On Friday, Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville broke the news that they’ll be the home of the Maui Invitational, which will be played here in an NBA-inspired basketball bubble. It’s the first time in the Tournament’s 37 years that it will take place on the mainland.

ICYMI, the NBA has been playing all of its games in an isolation zone at Walt Disney World known as the bubble. The unconventional approach was innovated to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while letting the games go on. In Asheville, all games will take place in a bubble environment that limits the movements + interactions of players, staff, officials + media outside the venue.

Because the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) decided to start the 2020-21 college basketball season on Nov. 25, the invitational has been rescheduled to take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, dates that mesh with the participating teams’ schedules. DYK participating teams include the University of North Carolina, Indiana University, Davidson College, University of Alabama, Providence College, University of Texas, Stanford, and UNLV.

The Tournament is working with the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and local hotels to align + operate with mass gathering guidelines and create a safer way for players + staff to enjoy the game. Those involved with the Tournament will undergo testing throughout the event. Organizers are also looking into the possibility of having a limited number of fans as the event gets closer.

Organizers say Asheville’s warm community and emphasis on nature is reminiscent of Maui, and the more than $18 million in renovations + enhancements Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville has completed make it an ideal place for a bubble.


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