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Fort Myers Tip-Off continues for 5th year in Southwest Florida after Hurricane Ian

Teams and fans from all over the country in town to see the tournament and support Southwest Florida
Posted at 4:18 PM, Nov 22, 2022

FORT MYERS, FLA — Fort Myers Tip-Off begins Monday inside the Suncoast Credit Unit Arena - as this week teams from around the country are in town to play in the tournament. Those teams bring their most loyal fans along with them here to Southwest Florida.

It's good to have this tournament here especially after Hurricane Ian as it helps bring in money to our local economy. Fans say they plan on supporting local businesses throughout our area in hopes to help in the ongoing Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

Brian and Julie Waldhart flew into Fort Myers from Waukesha, Wisconsin to see Marquette basketball team play. "Brian and I actually met at Marquette in the Marquette band so we went there and we have followed Marquette basketball ever since college... we’re excited to be here in Fort Myers following them for this tournament."

But keep in mind this is the first major sporting event taking place down here in Fort Myers post-Hurricane Ian says Mark Starsiak who's the Tournament Director, "Sanibel Harbor Marriott and Westin Cape Coral are our two hotel partners. They rallied after the storm and got themselves ready for visitors in general as well as us so we are fortunate to have an infrastructure stay in place compared to a lot of their spots out here."

And people coming in from out of town feel for our community.

As Chris Palen who's in town from Washington D.C. says, "So the first thing I noticed was flying in and you’re used to flying in and see all the blue rectangles and pools but we got low enough and I realized oh that’s tarps on the roof and you realize just how much damage it was and how extensive. Also how hit or miss it was, one house could be in halfway decent shape and the one next to it could be almost totaled so yeah it’s hard to escape seeing it while you’re down here."

Brian Waldhart, "Coming down here and seeing all the damage and all the garbage out in front of people's houses it was sad it’s sad to see but we’re happy to see that most of the places are back up and running again and people seem to be getting back to their lives a little bit."

Starsiak, "It’s been a hard couple of months down here and I think that basketball and sport provide levity like this more often than not we’re going to have 14 great games over the course of six days here, and the chance to break away from what’s happened and have fun enjoy some basketball and relax with family here during the holidays."

When asking about attendance I'm told the numbers look good - not quite a sellout like it was last year because Ohio State and Florida were big teams playing last year which was popular for our area.

Tickets are still available for the games this week.