LETTERS TO EDITOR - Moving Peach Basket Classic risks its success

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As someone who has very strong ties to the Walla Walla YMCA Peach Basket Classic 3-on-3 basketball tournament, I feel compelled to comment on the recent decision to move the event two blocks to the east.

The PBC is one of the largest and most successful events held in the downtown area. It brings families, friends and long time competitors together for friendly competition, sportsmanship and spirited physical fitness. It not only promotes and enforces the YMCA's character values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility, but, at the same time, it has welcomed and exposed tens of thousands of people to our beautiful downtown since 1994.

Earlier in the year the Downtown Foundation Board voted, unanimously, not to relocate the PBC. However, a Main Street restaurateur didn't agree with the decision of the board. Supposedly, the PBC is his worst weekend of the year. Really?

It appears he voiced his displeasure to the point the Downtown Foundation reversed its original decision and agreed to relocate the event two blocks to the east.

My concern is that the Foundation Board made a decision without knowing the real damage it will inflict on the quality of the tournament.

If the PBC were to move, the quality and perhaps the continuation of the tournament will be at risk. There are many reasons, but one very critical one comes to mind.

Thankfully, for the past 16 years, the PBC has been permitted to use the Land Title Plaza as the hub of the tournament. Asking to move the tournament from First Avenue and Main Street is like asking Macy's to move its Christmas Parade to Rose Street.

Logistically, the Plaza plays host to the information booth, Powerade station, first aid tent, sprinkled cooling station, music and announcement tent, bracket displays, bleacher seating and -- most importantly -- center court

Center court provides a very large and panoramic playing surface on the brick intersection. The logistics, ambiance and atmosphere cannot be duplicated.

Simply put, events such as the PBC set Walla Walla apart from other communities. The amount of exposure our downtown receives through all of these events are positive and invaluable, PR wise and monetarily.

As a former downtown merchant, the PBC was not my busiest weekend of the year. However, I do know for a fact, the exposure from that weekend led to profitable sales in the following months to come.

It's been said, "Build it and they will come." The YMCA has built it and many people are coming. Why change it and risk the success of a spectacular community event?

Jim Sanders

Walla Walla

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