RALEIGH — The Wake Forest basketball team will play in the Paradise Jam as scheduled. The tournament just won’t be held in the Virgin Islands.
Because of the damage suffered on the islands by hurricanes Irma and Maria, organizers of the eight-team event — originally scheduled for Nov. 17-20 at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center on St. Thomas — will be moved to a location on the U.S. mainland.
An exact venue will be announced by next Friday, with Winston-Salem and Greensboro among the possibilities.
Coach Danny Manning’s Deacons will play Drake in the opening round. Colorado, Drexel, Houston, Liberty, Mercer and Quinnipiac are the other teams in the field.
“As a staff, it’s our responsibility to ensure the teams involved in this tournament are not negatively impacted from a safety perspective or a scheduling perspective,” tournament director Jennifer Ashby said in a statement announcing the move. “It’s also important to be aware that despite the importance of flight arrangements, hotel bookings and basketball games, many people have suffered personal, emotional, and material damage from these storms.”
After Hurricane Irma devastated St. Thomas, plans were made to move the tournament to the neighboring island of St. Croix. Those plans, however, were scrapped when St. Croix suffered severe damage to its infrastructure from Hurricane Maria.
Other options, including hosting the participating teams on a docked cruise ship, were considered. In the end, though, it was decided best to relocate the tournament to the mainland. Each team in the field has been given the opportunity to submit a proposal to host the event.
Fans who purchased travel packages and tickets directly through the Paradise Jam website will be refunded the full value of their package price.
“We’ve organized the Paradise Jam for 17 years in St. Thomas and have developed close personal ties with the people in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Ashby said. “This was not an easy decision. Many sleepless, tear-filled nights have been spent on this disaster and we continue to push forward emotionally and professionally. We feel we have made the best decision for everyone involved and will continue to have the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands in our prayers as they rebuild from these devastating storms.”