COVID-19’s crunch on local economy set to present unique hurdles for Texas Invitational fundraising

McDonald’s Texas Invitational tournament chairman Kirk Lewis presents one of the event’s famed limestone trophies to Katy Tompkins after a 2017 contest. Deer Park’s two teams will go after one of those unique trophies starting Thursday morning at 9.

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McDonald’s Texas Invitational tournament chairman Kirk Lewis presents one of the event’s famed limestone trophies to Katy Tompkins after a 2017 contest. Deer Park’s two teams will go after one of those unique

… more

Photo: Robert Avery

McDonald’s Texas Invitational tournament chairman Kirk Lewis presents one of the event’s famed limestone trophies to Katy Tompkins after a 2017 contest. Deer Park’s two teams will go after one of those unique trophies starting Thursday morning at 9.

less

McDonald’s Texas Invitational tournament chairman Kirk Lewis presents one of the event’s famed limestone trophies to Katy Tompkins after a 2017 contest. Deer Park’s two teams will go after one of those unique

… more

Photo: Robert Avery

COVID-19’s crunch on local economy set to present unique hurdles for Texas Invitational fundraising

A stall in the final minutes of a close basketball game Dr. Kirk Lewis can fathom. A stall in sponsors or the entire event itself because of a microscopic virus he does not care to fathom.

That’s the predicament the McDonald’s Texas Invitational chairman is concerned about as the nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. In every aspect, the virus has robbed Americans of the lifestyles they cherish. Nothing’s been untouched from this microscopic invader.

And now it’s threatening something else that only high school basketball fans know what it means to cherish. The Texas Invitational, with its three days of 80 teams in competition at sites all around town where the profits go to two separate school districts, could be facing unfortunate consequences if the country doesn’t begin getting the upper hand on the virus.

Yes, the 18th annual event isn’t scheduled for another seven months (Nov. 19-21), but the pursuit for new donors and the certainty of maintaining old ones arrives much sooner than that. And with the state’s non-essential businesses currently closed while others may be laying off employees, some of whom are sponsors of the Texas Invitational, the concern grows with each passing day.

“With our recent hurricanes, the giving didn’t dip but I know this is different,” Lewis said.

June and July, says Lewis, are the months when the tournament’s steering committee embark on their quest for sponsors. Between the Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsors, last year’s list numbered 117. That’s not counting the major sponsors such as McDonald’s, ABC Dental, the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, city of Pasadena/Economic Development Corp. and Community Bank of Texas.

“That’s going to be the big issue for us. We’ll assess how quickly the recovery from the business community is and whether or not they’ll be able to participate with us,” Lewis said.

In borrowing a basketball term, in order to possibly allow the business community more time to stage a second-half comeback, the committee may put off its pursuit of sponsors until late summer when perhaps the environment will hopefully have improved.

“We’ll probably wait that long,” Lewis said.

On the up side, so many of the tournament’s long-term sponsors will likely go out of their way to see that they’ll be able to contribute again. Lewis feels that will work in the tournament’s favor but whether it’ll be on the scale of past years remains to be seen.

Then there’s the truly staunch sponsors who have contributed to the tournament’s success time and time again like Frank and Pat Braden, Fairmont Travel and Spectrum Scoreboards. The group were Bronze level contributors in 2010 and they were Bronze level contributors again in 2019.

Bottom line, if November’s tournament is able to make a definitive profit again, Lewis will be ecstatic. Last year’s tournament raised in the neighborhood of $300,000 to $330,000 while expenses were roughly $120,000 to put the three-day tournament on.

So many sporting events, such as The Masters Golf Tournament, are postponing their events to stage them for the autumn months. For the first time since its inception in 1934, The Masters will be played in a month other than March or April.

The McDonald’s Texas Invitational has no such luxury with its date. No one wants to believe that Invitational fans may have to wait until November 2021 for the next three-day basketball bonanza to hit town.

“In my heart, I don’t believe that’s going to happen,” Lewis said.

He doesn’t want to believe that because so many new teams are scheduled to compete in the boys division. Lewis named Barbers Hill, Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial, Fort Bend Dulles, Katy Paetow, Katy Taylor, Waco Midway, Woodlands College Park and Tomball high schools as the “new blood” wanting to try their fortunes.

As a group, they represent eight separate districts, three from the Class 5A ranks that compiled the overall record this past season of 164-102. Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial, one of those 5A schools (District 15), led the way with 30 wins and Midway, District 11-6A, followed with 28.

From last year’s boys division, Dickinson earned a trip to state, while Bellaire and Converse Judson were defeated in their respective regional championship games. The Region III title game featured an all-Texas Invitational showdown that pitted Bellaire opposite Dickinson.

This year’s boys’ Class 6A state championship was never held because of the COVID-19 threat.

In the girls’ division, Cy-Creek, which won the Texas Invitational Division I Gold title, also captured the state championship. Summer Creek and Clear Springs, teams that lost to Cy-Creek in the regional semifinals and finals, respectively, also competed at the Texas Invitational.

The Converse Judson girls, who nearly played Clear Springs in the Silver Division title game at Pasadena Memorial High School, went on to capture the Region IV championship.

In borrowing another basketball term, Lewis can’t wait to see the country begin rebounding from this nightmare and he would love nothing more than for the McDonald’s Texas Invitational to be a part of that comeback.

ravery@hcnonline.com


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