All A

Matt Nail, then a senior at Louisville Holy Cross High School, cheers during last year’s opening round the All “A” Classic in McBrayer Arena.

The Richmond Tourism and Main Street Department is calling out to the community for help during the 18th annual Touchstone Energy All “A” Classic.

Approximately 50,000 people will descend upon Richmond during the five-day event Jan. 30 through Feb. 3 in Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena.

About 200 volunteers are needed to make the event successful, said Lori Murphy, executive director for the Richmond Tourism and Main Street Department.

“It’s a lot of fun and this is a great chance for us all to be tour guides for our city,” Murphy said.

Volunteer positions include ushers, volunteer desk, Richmond Tourism booth, Richmond information booth, novelty sales, hospitality room and ticket taking.

All corporate sponsors, including clubs and organizations, will be recognized through tournament advertisements, newspaper press releases and posters throughout the region.

The EKU and Richmond police departments will assist during the event, along with the Richmond Fire Department and members of the Kentucky National Guard.

Parking will be available in the Alumni Coliseum parking lot and in the Ashland lot on Kit Carson Drive near the city fire station.

Local restaurants are being asked to donate food for the event, and quite a few are always “very gracious” each year, Murphy said.

“We have to feed 200 people three times a day,” she said. “We’re feeding the coaches, the officials and other tournament affiliates.”

Aramark food services will be in charge of concessions during the event, but the city must purchase all paper plates, cups, eating utensils and napkins.

This is why monetary donations also are a great help, Murphy said.

“People look at us funny when we’re shopping for the event,” she said. “People ask us ‘Are you throwing a party?’”

Her reply is honest.

“I tell them ‘Yeah, we’re throwing a party for 50,000 people,’” she said.

The teams competing will be smaller schools which usually don't have a chance to compete on the state tournament level.

“This is one of their great high school moments, and we’re lucky to get to be a part of it,” Murphy said.

The event also serves as a five-day showcase for EKU.

“Most of these students have never been to a university before,” Murphy said. “A lot of them do come back and go to Eastern.”

The university is not the only entity that benefits from the annual, five-day tournament that generates about $2.5 million each year.

“At the Richmond Mall, you have this increase in people who are shopping, getting gas at gas stations and a lot of the restaurants pre-order to have more food and extra staff,” Murphy said.

Richmond hotels also benefit greatly from out-of-town visitors and traveling teams.

“Our hotels are packed and we’ve even had to use a couple of hotels in Berea to be able to house everyone,” she said. “Each hotel gets a different team, that way it’s fair for everybody.”

The money generated from the event goes back into the Richmond Tourism and Main Street budget to help cover the cost of hosting the event, which varies each year depending on the amount of donations given.

The rental cost for the EKU facility is costing the city $49,638.80, according to an order the city commission adopted in December.

Tickets are $9 per session and will be sold at the event. There are two sessions each day, excluding Sunday, when there will only be one session from noon to 5 p.m.

Volunteer applications can be found inside the January edition of “Tourism Talk,” a publication of the Richmond Tourism and Main Street Department. The newsletter is available at the department at 345 Lancaster Ave.

Applications also can be obtained by calling 626-8474.

Volunteers for Jan. 30-31 and Feb. 1 (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) are needed from: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 1 to 6 p.m.; and 6 to 10:45 p.m. Volunteers for Saturday, Feb. 2, are needed from 9 a.m. to noon and noon to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 3, from noon to 5 p.m.

The applications can be returned via fax at 626-8121 or mailed to: Richmond Tourism/Main Street Department, Attention: All “A” Classic, 345 Lancaster Ave., Richmond, KY 40475.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 234.

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