Colorado basketball fans who have been planning a little fun in the sun a week before Thanksgiving might have to be patient and accept a holding pattern for the time being.
On Nov. 17, the Buffaloes are slated to tip off against Quinnipiac in the first of three games at the annual Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, the destruction left behind by Hurricane Irma might force those plans to be rearranged.
The island of St. Thomas, home to the host arena at the University of the Virgin Islands, was ravaged by the powerful storm days ago. While no reports have surfaced specifically referring to any damage to the UVI Sports and Fitness Center, other reports indicate the island's airports and hospitals suffered extensive damage, as did streets and hotels.
Even if the arena escaped severe damage, tournament organizers are beginning the process of assessing whether the area will be capable in two months of hosting the sort of event likely to draw thousands of visitors.
Basketball Travelers Inc., the company that runs the Paradise Jam, released a statement Monday that read:
"The Paradise Jam tournament staff is in the process of evaluating damage caused by Hurricane Irma to the U.S. Virgin Islands last week. The U.S. Virgin Islands is a resourceful community that has dealt with many hurricanes, but Irma was a uniquely strong storm, and our priority is to ensure everyone in the Virgin Islands stays safe as they continue to rebuild from this devastating disaster.
We know everyone is eager to find out information about the Paradise Jam, and we will provide updates as we have a more complete report of the damage on the island, and especially at the hotel and arena.
Basketball Travelers Inc., has experience with natural disasters and tournament directors are exploring options. Our strong preference is to keep the event in the Virgin Islands if at all possible."
In addition to the Buffaloes and Quinnipiac, the eight-team field also is set to include Wake Forest, Houston, Mercer, Drexel, Drake, and Liberty.