NICEVILLE, Fla. (WMBB) – The Northwest Florida Raiders may not be playing any games until January, but that doesn’t mean their arena won’t see some basketball.
Northwest Florida will be hosting two Division I basketball tournaments in November.
The Emerald Coast Classic will be held there for the seventh year in a row. However, due to the pandemic, another tournament will be calling the arena home that week as well.
The Cayman Islands Classic is relocating to Niceville for this year. Northwest Florida Athletic Director Ramsey Ross said he and the tournament director have been talking about moving it since March, but it was made official on Wednesday.
Ross said it was easy to make the two tournaments work with scheduling.
“With the NJCAA pushing the seasons back until the Spring, it’s really wide open so they are able to have a full practice day, it’s three days of competition, then you get one day off and then we are picking up with the Emerald Coast Classic. Our facility is wide open, our college president, our college community is very excited to have these events back to back and I think it’s gonna be an outstanding win win situation for everyone involved,” Ross said.
There are eight teams competing in each respective tournament. In the Cayman Islands Classic, there’s Kansas State, La Salle, Ole Miss, Nevada, Northern Iowa, Oregon State, Western Kentucky and Miami. In the Emerald Coast Classic, there’s Illinois, Iowa State, Oregon and Florida.
Ross said they really hope they will be allowed fans for this year’s tournaments.
“The fans are what makes the experience great. Obviously with basketball that’s high level, you have future pros playing in our facility, outstanding teams from great conferences, but the fans are really what makes it and takes it over the top,” Ross said. We certainly hope to have in some capacity fans, we don’t know if that’s going to be 100 percent or 50 percent.”
The Cayman Islands Classic is set for November 23-25. The Emerald Coast Classic set for November 27-29.