Quincy a ‘model community’ for Gus Macker

Posted: Oct. 25, 2017 3:05 pm

THE future of the Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament in downtown Quincy is uncertain after the Exchange Club announced last week that its involvement will end after the 2020 event.

Exchange Club officials said a three-year contract extension has been signed with the Macker organization to take the partnership through its 30th year and allow Michigan-based Macker coordinator Scott McNeal time to try to find a new service club or other organization to be a partner and keep the event alive in Quincy.

“I can’t say enough good things about the Exchange Club and the city of Quincy,” McNeal told The Herald-Whig. “We’ll be talking to people. We definitely don’t want to leave the Quincy community. Quincy has been a model community.”

Equally important, the tournament has been good for a basketball hotbed like Quincy.

The first Gus Macker tournament in Quincy drew 200 four-player teams, and entries more than doubled to 500 the second year. The number of teams continued to grow, reaching a peak of 1,400 in 1997.

Organizers in the late 1990s and early 2000s estimated there were between 15,000 and 20,000 people in downtown Quincy over the Memorial Day weekend when courts stretched from Fourth to Sixth streets, York to Vermont.

Quincy was billed as the second-largest Gus Macker tournament in the country at the time. It flourished, in part, because of the downtown location. While many tournaments are played on parking lots without shade or scenery, Washington Park offers the shade of 100-year-old trees and a true street basketball environment.

Even with numbers hovering around 400 teams in recent years, the economic impact of the tournament has been pegged at about $500,000 annually.

Members of the Exchange Club, along with a host of corporate partners, should be commended for their long, strong support of this event. Members donated thousands of hours of their time to organize and make the event a success, while raising funds for the charitable causes the club supports in the community.

The Exchange Club now plans to focus fundraising efforts on its American Flag program.

For $30 a year, it will put a flag in a participant’s front yard four times a year — Memorial Day, Flag Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans Day. The club is also sponsoring a Field of Honor at Madison Park, where 1,000 American flags will be displayed on Veterans Day.

Both are worthwhile projects.

The Exchange Club, Gus Macker and Quincy have formed a good partnership for nearly three decades. Our hope is the tournament will live on as a Quincy tradition.