2017 is gearing up to be another bumper year of international events for Belfast as the city is set to host two major US College sporting events.
Lord Mayor Alderman Brian Kingston is in Boston this weekend to announce Belfast City Council’s support for hosting the first ever Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Invitational Tournament and the return of the successful NI Connections Friendship Four Ice Hockey Tournament.
Alderman Kingston was at the world famous Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield Massachusetts to announce Council support for a new College Basketball tournament scheduled to take place here in December.
The tournament announcement was organised by The Sport Changes Life Foundation and attendees included Barry Funston, CEO of golfer Rory McIlroy’s The Rory Foundation.
Basketball teams already signed up for the Belfast showcase include Manhattan College, La Salle University, College of the Holy Cross and Towson University.
As well as attending the basketball announcement, Belfast’s Lord Mayor went on to join Boston Mayor, Marty Walsh, at the iconic Fenway Park, to announce the welcome return of the NI Connections Friendship Four Ice Hockey tournament for a further two years. Eight US College teams have already signed up to take part.
The 2017 teams are Clarkson University, RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Providence College and University of Maine. Lined up for 2018 are Yale University, Union College, Boston University and The University of Connecticut.
Belfast City Council is supporting these major events as part of its Sister Cities relationship with Boston. This aims to build on economic development, trade, investment, tourism, youth, cultural, faith based exchange and educational linkages.
The Lord Mayor said: “Our city’s 2017 calendar is gathering momentum and Belfast hosting these two major US College tournaments further showcases our expertise at attracting international events.
“This is great kudos for Belfast – and we will all be preparing to roll out the red carpet for our visiting sports competitors and their fans”.
Both tournaments will be taking place at the SSE Arena – the ice hockey over Thanksgiving Weekend in November and the basketball in December.