#039;Friends#039; working hard on introducing Gus to community

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Gus Macker may be the new kid in town, but everyone in the Tri-State is about to know who he is.

The Friends of Ironton civic improvement group has finalized plans for bringing the Tri-State's first Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament to the courts, err streets. And after all of the prep work, the Friends are working fast to get the word out and introduce Gus to the masses.

"I think it's coming together really well," said Friends of Ironton founder Rick Jansen. "The corporate support has been far greater than I thought we were going to get."

Email newsletter signup

Those corporate sponsors include major sponsorship from Marathon Ashland Petroleum, Clark's Pump-N-Shop, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Coca-Cola/Powerade, Bob Clyse Pontiac-GMC and The Ironton Tribune.

"Putting on an event of this size is much more difficult than I anticipated," Jansen said. "And the responsibility that we have to these sponsors, I take really seriously because we have to give them a good product."

And judging by the diverse group of volunteers involved, the event will be a good product.

"The pride of some of the local people is all really good as well," Jansen said. "The volunteers are all people who are really wanting to get involved."

The tournament will be Friday and Saturday, May 21-22 in downtown Ironton.

Its mission is two-fold: Give folks a good, family event in Ironton and bring folks from outside the area into Ironton as an economic boost.

"It just exposes the area and I think a lot of people in Ironton fail to realize the value of the tourism dollar," Jansen said. "How many people went to Columbus last week to see the basketball teams play, got a hotel room, bought gas and something to eat. The impact is huge."

And the impact of Macker could be huge on Ironton and the Tri-State, Friends of Ironton volunteers hope.

If you are not familiar with Gus Macker tournament, first a little background. The tournaments had humble beginnings 30 years ago.

A Michigan man, Scott McNeal, who played the tournament on his parents' driveway started the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament in 1974.

Gus Macker tournaments are now played in dozens of cities all over the country with more than 200,000 players each year.

Gus Macker tournaments are open to anyone - regardless of age, height and experience. Each team consists of four players - three on the court and one substitute. Since players can only earn trophies, no cash, the tournaments do not affect high school students' amateur status and eligibility.

Registration costs $108 per team ($27 per player). Registration forms may be picked up at participating area Wendy's restaurants or at the Ironton Tribune. Online registration is also available at www.macker.com.

Registration deadlines are April 29 for mailed registrations and May 2 for online participants.

The Ironton Macker tournament will be played on the streets of downtown Ironton, specifically 2nd Street near the intersection of Vernon and several adjacent parking lots.

Macker tournaments are almost festivals in themselves and Ironton's inaugural event promises lots of off-court action as well with plans for a rock-climbing wall and lots of games and activities for children already slated.

The next Friends of Ironton meeting is at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at the City Center.