BRISTOL, Tenn. - The 31st edition of the Arby's Classic basketball tournament tipped off inside Viking Hall in Bristol, Tennessee on Thursday.
The stands were almost full as the Urspring School of Germany, the 2012 tournament champion, kicked off the tournament, playing the first game against Sullivan East at 1 p.m.
The second game was Sullivan South and United Faith Christian School out of Charlotte, NC. United Faith is coached by Muggsy Bogues, a former Charlotte Hornet and the shortest man to ever play in the NBA at 5'3".
One spectator told News 5 that Bogues was one of the reasons they came out to the tournament. "We've heard about it for years and my son loves to play basketball," said Pamela Carr, of Nashville. "We heard Muggsy was going to be there."
Carr and her family are in Bristol visiting her parents.
Other games with local teams included Johnson County High School versus Hamilton High School from Memphis at 5:30 Thursday evening. At 7 p.m., Dobyns-Bennett played Oakland High School out of Murfreesboro.
There will be 30 games played in the tournament.
Boost for businesses
Organizers expect 33,000 people to attend the tournament.
There are 18 teams playing in the tournament. Six of the teams are local but 12 of them traveled here from across the nation and the world, bringing fans with them.
We're told the fans give local businesses a boost.
Brea Forbes traveled to the event with the Tabernacle Baptist Christian Academy team, from the Bahamas. She told us they go to local restaurants while they're here. "We like the Applebee's and the Friday's, and stuff like that," she said.
Forbes told us they also go shopping. "We like to go shopping at the malls," said Forbes. "We to go to the Nike factory and all of the different outlets here."
Tournament director Richard Ensor told us the Tabernacle team travels as far as Pigeon Forge, Tenn. to go shopping. "They bring empty suitcases and take them back with clothes," Ensor said.
He told us since 12 of teams are from out of town, there's enough business to go around. "A lot of people eat out, a lot of teams bring parents and fill up the hotels. It's a big boost to the area," said Ensor.
He told us all of the traveling teams are staying at the Holiday Inn at Exit 7, in Bristol, Va.
We're told the visitors are even keeping members of the Elizabeth Chapel United Methodist Church in Bluff City, Tenn. busy. "My parents' church actually cooks some meals for some of the visiting teams," said Pamela Carr of Nashville.
We're told tournament-goers will cash in about $150,000 total at the tournament alone. Tickets are $10 per session or $50 for a tournament pass.
All proceeds of the event will go back to the Tennessee High School Athletic Department.
Organizers told us the tournament cost more than $100,000 due to the cost of referees, and food and lodging for the traveling teams.
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