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Hooplandia Basketball Tourney Postponed to June 2021
 That’s the way the ball bounces — at least when a major regional sporting event gets upended by a global pandemic.
Given the sweeping impacts of COVID-19, and with no timeline in place for reopening the region’s economy and tourism, organizers of Hooplandia, the planned 3-on-3 basketball tournament and festival scheduled for this June, announced that the event has been postponed to 2021.
At the same time, the organizers reaffirmed their commitment to the event in 2021, and, in creating a legacy celebration for the Springfield region and the birthplace of basketball, outlined a series of smaller events in 2020 to engage the community and build momentum toward next year. The newly scheduled dates for Hooplandia are June 25-27, 2021, with games hosted by the Big E Fairgrounds and the Nai- smith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Boys and Girls Clubs in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut will remain the lead philanthropic recipient of the event, which was slated to host 2,500 teams and 10,000 players.
“We are heartbroken that the road to Hooplandia has been closed to us in 2020, but we are fully com- mitted and excited about bringing this to life in 2021,” said Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO of Eastern States Exposition. “There has been a tre- mendous outpouring of support from businesses, community partners and organizations, and basket-
ball fans from throughout the Northeast, and we are grateful for validating this vision and being a part of it. While
we cannot properly structure
and execute the event this year because of these extraordinary circumstances, we are already working on our plans for next year.”
Added John Doleva, presi-
dent and CEO of the Basket-
ball Hall of Fame, “from the
beginning, the intent has been
to build a legacy event that will
last and grow for decades, celebrat-
ing basketball and its culture in this
region and beyond. Like everyone, we look
forward to normalcy and our great traditions, and want Hooplandia to be one of those. The passion for Hooplandia and the sport has been awe-inspiring to me, and I know this event will be of championship caliber in 2021.”
To help build a bridge to the 2021 Hooplandia, a number of smaller events are being planned, with details forthcoming. Those include:
• Hooplandia at the Hall of Fame Enshrinement. A series of 3-on-3 courts and games will be curated for outdoor play in the parking lot of the Hall dur- ing Springfield Celebration Day on Sunday, Aug. 30,
as part of Enshrinement Weekend activities. The festival environment will feature food,
music, and entertainment.
• Hooplandia World Slam Dunk Championship at the Big E. High-
flying entertainment comes to the Big E fair (Sept. 18 to Oct. 4), with
a spectacle of slam-dunk artists from around the world competing for the title of Hooplandia World Slam Dunk Champ. Date to be
announced.
• Hooplandia Showcase Games on the Court of Dreams at the Hall
of Fame. During the winter of 2020-21, a series of high-profile 3-on-3 games will
be scheduled for competition on the legendary hardwood. Details to be announced.
All teams that have registered and paid for Hoop- landia will be issued full refunds. Teams of players age 8 and under were slated for free registration in 2020, honoring the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant — Bryant wore #8 during a portion of his Los Ange- les Lakers career in the NBA. The free under-8 regis- tration will be extended to the 2021 event.
Hooplandia’s Instagram account (@hooplandia) and website (www.hooplandia.com) will provide ongoing information and plans for the event and its transition. u
  Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Relief and Resiliency Microgrant Program Launched In Amherst
The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Amherst Business Improvement District’s launch of the Relief
and Resiliency Microgrant Program to provide financial relief to Amherst-wide small businesses affected by COVID-19 closures, through the
newly formed Downtown Amherst Foundation (DAF). The foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was formed as a means to develop downtown Amherst cultural projects, such as a permanent outdoor performance space, but has shifted its focus to support Amherst economic stability during this difficult time.
Now, the Downtown Amherst Foundation is expanding its focus to all of Amherst, with the launch of the Relief and Resiliency Microgrant Pro- gram, executed and managed in partnership with the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. The goal is to raise $500,000, and $80,000 has been raised so far.
The negative economic impact of COVID-19 is unprecedented. In downtown Amherst alone, more than 70% of surveyed businesses said they could
not survive a shutdown through May. The Down- town Amherst Foundation’s program intends to offer
microgrants to small, local businesses and individual contractors to meet their short-term financial needs. The grant can cover employee wages and benefits (including benefits associated with employment, such as health insurance), accounts payable, fixed costs, inventory, rent, and utilities. The grants are available for Amherst small businesses, indepen- dent contractors, and self-employed individuals who operate brick-and-mortar businesses.
The foundation hopes to have funds in place and be open for applications on May 1, with an initial deadline of May 10. Subsequent deadlines will be announced. Individual donations are needed and will be tax-free. Checks can be sent to the Downtown Amherst Foundation, 35 South Pleasant St., Amherst, MA 01002, and gifts can also be made online at www. downtownamherstfoundation.org.
The new focus addresses the challenges and shortfalls of the federal stimulus package as a way to manage continual fiscal costs to help Amherst busi- nesses weather the uncertainties of the pandemic and put them on sound footing. Amherst’s economy is uniquely aligned with higher education, and the shutdown and closures of the colleges and university
hit the town earlier than other communities in the state.
The grant review committee includes Irvin Rhodes, organizational development consultant; Ellen Brout Lindsay, nonprofit consultant; Tony Maroulis, executive director of External Relations
& University Events, UMass Amherst; Ralph Tate, investment-management specialist and treasurer of Kestrel Land Trust; and Glenn Barrett, CEO of Ortho- lite. These community members say they are united in their love of Amherst and have no conflicts of interest as business owners or landlords.
The initial push will be fundraising through Patronicity, an organization that partners with state agencies, foundations, private corporations, and granting organizations to offer pools of funding, often in the form of grants, to the organization’s con- stituent communities. Thomas Moore of TigerWeb,
a digital marketing firm, donated the program’s logo design.
E-mail Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, with any inquiries at [email protected] u
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