March 23 2018 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The top community college basketball players in the region are headed to West Michigan during the next two years, with Grand Rapids Community College selected to host the NJCAA Region XII basketball tournament in 2019 and 2020.
The NJCAA, the governing body for community college sports, announced the site selection this week, just as the GRCC men's basketball team embarked on its second consecutive appearance in national tournament play.
The winning bid package was the result of a partnership between GRCC and the West Michigan Sports Commission, which touted the upcoming renovations of Ford Fieldhouse and Gordon Hunsberger Arena along with the region’s accessibility, affordability and attractions.
“We’re not just proud to show off GRCC -- we’re showing off our entire community to the thousands of student-athletes and spectators who will be guests on our campus and in West Michigan,” GRCC President Bill Pink said. “This will be a spectacular opportunity, and we’re grateful for the hard work of our partners to make this happen.”
NJCAA's Region XII encompasses 33 schools in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, with the tournament including both men’s and women’s basketball teams.
The West Michigan Sports Commission worked with local hotels to offer discounted rates and is providing other services to visiting teams, families and Region XII staff.
“I have no doubt the teams and spectators involved will enjoy their experience with the professional athletic staff and intimate Gordon Hunsberger Arena that GRCC offers, along with the many restaurant and hotel options our beautiful downtown provides within walking distance of the campus,” said commission President Mike Guswiler.
The bid package included letters of support from Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and Doug Small, president of the Grand Rapids Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The tournament will be one of the first major events at Ford Fieldhouse after its renovations. The work, which starts in May, includes installation of air conditioning and upgrades to the locker rooms, training facilities and public areas. Work is expected to be completed in late fall. The project’s $8 million expense includes a new roof last year.
"We are very excited to put on a fantastic tournament for the student-athletes who work so hard to make the Regional Tournament," GRCC athletic director William Firn said. “We stress teamwork on the court, and bringing the tournament to GRCC is the result of teamwork with partners throughout our community.”
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.