It's wise not to move Peach Basket Classic

The 3-on-3 tournament is a popular community event. It would have been a mistake to move it from the heart of downtown Walla Walla.

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The best place for the Peach Basket Classic is the heart of downtown Walla Walla -- its location for the 3-on-3 basketball tournament's entire 17-year history.

The downtown location, with center court at First Avenue and Main Street, has been an important part of the event's tremendous success. The location provides an energy to the event felt by participants and spectators. It's a slice of Americana too rarely found today.

A decision by officials of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, at the urging of some business owners concerned the location was adversely impacting their establishments, called for moving the event two blocks to the east.

The decision was controversial and quickly drew criticism from many who believed moving the tournament was a mistake.

Thursday evening the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation Board decided the Peach Basket Classic would remain where it has always been. It was a wise decision.

Moving the Peach Basket Classic -- even two blocks -- would have changed the tournament's feel and, as a result, could have tarnished the luster of this popular community event. Last year more than 1,000 players, local folks and people from throughout the Pacific Northwest entered the two-day tournament on the first weekend in August.

The event is extremely well managed by the YMCA and its community volunteers. Every effort is made to ensure participants are well behaved and downtown remains clean.

There are always going to be a few people who are rude or cause problems, but those are the exceptions.

We understand why some business owners are not thrilled with the tournament. The huge crowds and the lack of parking spaces are barriers to shopping and some businesses are financially hurt that weekend.

However, the Peach Basket Classic is a boon for other businesses, such as those that serve food and beverages.

Overall, we believe the goodwill created is an economic plus for the entire Valley.

But whether the Peach Basket is good or bad for individual merchants is not really the point. This is a community event, not a downtown merchant event.

Downtown Walla Walla is not a mall. It's the hub of the community. Those are our streets, not the merchants' streets.

Ultimately, it should be a city of Walla Walla decision (a community decision) on the location of the tournament.

Nevertheless, city officials -- perhaps in an effort to avoid controversy -- have ceded their authority in a de facto fashion. Ironically, leaving the decision to the merchants and/or their association ended up creating a controversy.

The Peach Basket Classic's home is the center of Walla Walla and that's where it should remain.

Union-Bulletin Publisher Rob Blethen, a member of the Walla Walla YMCA Board of Directors, did not participate in the writing or editing of this editorial.

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