The operator of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational reaffirmed its tournament dates this November but has yet to decide where it will be held in the wake of a wildfire that devastated the town of Lahaina earlier this month.

The longtime home of the tournament, the 2,400-seat Lahaina Civic Center, north of town, was spared destruction from the Aug. 8 fire. However, playing it there so soon after the nearby disaster could be difficult as the community grieves the deaths of at least 115 people with hundreds more still marked missing. The historic town had an essential part to play in the Maui Invitational’s annual operation, as it was a hub for visiting teams and several thousand visiting fans. Many locals volunteered at the event.

What You Need To Know

  • The Maui Jim Maui Invitational is exploring options for where to play the 40th edition of the prestigious early-season college basketball tournament in the wake of rampant wildfire destruction to the town of Lahaina, near the tournament's traditional home at the Lahaina Civic Center

  • Tournament runner KemperLesnik issued a statement Monday that it plans to meet with Maui officials to best determine where the nationally televised event can be played

  • The University of Hawaii's Stan Sheriff Center on Oahu is in discussion as an option to host the Nov. 20-22 event, according to UH arena manager Rich Sheriff

  • Options on Maui could include War Memorial Gym in Wailuku and South Maui Community Park Gymnasium in Kihei

Chicago-based KemperLesnik put out an initial statement expressing concern for Maui residents and first responders as news of the fire first circulated, then was silent until Monday, when it issued a statement indicating that it was still exploring Maui as a location to play the 40th edition of what is widely considered the premier early-season college basketball tournament.

“Our focus has been and will continue to be on the people of Maui. No decision has been made yet as to the location of this year’s Maui Invitational, which will be played Nov. 20-22. At the appropriate time, we will meet with Maui officials to discuss where we can best host the event in a safe and respectful manner for residents, players, staff and fans. We know how important the Maui Invitational is to the local community, both emotionally and economically, and we are committed to hosting an event that will celebrate, respect and honor the aloha spirit. Our Tournament ohana extends our deepest condolences to the entire community and will malama Maui — now and always.”

However, the University of Hawaii’s 10,300-seat Stan Sheriff Center on Oahu, the largest basketball venue in the state, is in play as a temporary home for the tournament.

Arena manager Rich Sheriff told Spectrum News he has been in contact with Nelson Taylor, the Maui Invitational tournament director.

“We have discussed options to move to the SSC,” Sheriff said. “We are waiting on them as they have been notified of the games we currently have scheduled during that time.”

Sheriff said a Nov. 21 UH men’s basketball game would either start late or could be relocated, should the Maui Invitational make the unprecedented move to Oahu.

If the tournament is relocated to the mainland, it would be the third time in the last four years it was held outside of Hawaii. The 2020 and 2021 editions were played in Asheville, N.C., and Las Vegas because of local restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2022 tournament was celebrated for its return to the Valley Isle. Traditionally, the tournament has conveyed to Maui an estimated $16 million in annual economic impact.

If the tournament remains on Maui, options besides LCC could include the South Maui Community Park Gymnasium in Kihei, and War Memorial Gym in Wailuku.

The Kihei facility opened in 2019 and, like the LCC, is air-conditioned and has a public address system. Its standard bleacher seating fits 718 people, per the Maui News, but the gym has ample floor space and Kihei is a popular area for visitors. War Memorial Gym, meanwhile, is aging and doesn't feature air conditioning but can hold at least 1,200 people and is located in the heart of Maui’s most populated area.

The 2023 Maui Invitational field is another traditionally stacked one: Gonzaga, Kansas, Marquette, Purdue, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCLA and Division II host Chaminade.

UPDATE: Chaminade basketball coach Eric Bovaird told Spectrum News on Monday night that he was confident the tournament would remain in the state. Maui, where he has built some strong relationships through the tournament, would be his clear preference.

"Maui would be the No. 1 option, no doubt. If the Maui people and the officials want us over there, that's where we want to be," Bovaird said. "Not only is it the best place to host the tournament, but we can provide some benefit in a lot of ways for the people that have gone through the devastation. Hopefully we can not only bring some financial support but bring some joy in general, after all they've been through.

"If not, I think we can do a great job of hosting this year on Oahu. The Stan Sheriff could potentially be a site for that."

Bovaird said of the possibility it could be a mainland event again, "Hawaii is our No. 1 through 25 option ... I'm pretty confident that that's going to happen (here). I'd be very surprised if after all the people I've talked to, if our president (Lynn Babington) and KemperLesnik decided for some reason to want to go to Vegas. I would say I'm 99% sure it's going to be in Hawaii, and hopefully a high percentage that we find a good place in Maui."

Brian McInnis covers the state's sports scene for Spectrum News Hawaii. He can be reached at