Lack of sponsor sidelines showcase

Annual game featuring top recruits canceled

February 09, 2010|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com

This year was supposed to be the 10th anniversary of the Charm City Challenge, the annual boys high school all-star basketball game that pits the top talent in Maryland against some of the country's elite recruits.

That anniversary will not be celebrated, however, as organizers announced Monday that the event, scheduled to take place in April at the Towson Center, has been canceled because a corporate sponsor could not be found this year.

Converse, which had sponsored the event in recent years, providing jerseys, shoes and other amenities, decided it could not renew its partnership in this troubled economy, said Lee Corrigan, president of Corrigan Sports Enterprises, the event's organizer.

The shoe company is in the process of putting together a new marketing plan, Corrigan said, and was not ready to commit to its plan for the Baltimore-Washington region yet. A message left Monday night with Converse's media relations department was not returned.

"It's a tough situation, because we really felt like the event had become entrenched in the city of Baltimore," Corrigan said. "I feel like it's especially tough that it had to happen this year because we have six or seven high-level Division I kids in the city, and there is probably a Carmelo Anthony in the bunch. It's a shame."

The game, which drew a crowd of close to 3,000 in recent years, had been an opportunity for Maryland Terrapins fans to get their first look at a number of recent recruits. Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, James Gist, D.J. Strawberry, Sean Mosley, Jordan Williams and Chris McCray all participated in past years. Five current NBA players also played in the contest: Dante Cunningham, Portland Trail Blazers; Josh Boone, New Jersey Nets; Jarrett Jack, Toronto Raptors; Jack McClinton, San Antonio Spurs; and Dajuan Summers, Detroit Pistons.

The event also has the distinction of having an alumnus participate in each of the past eight NCAA Final Fours.

"It was a great game that had really started to build momentum," Corrigan said. "Around this time every year, my phone would be ringing and it would be college basketball coaches saying, 'Can you make sure my recruit gets in the game?' It was really gaining traction. We were very fortunate to have a title sponsor like Converse giving us gear and sneakers and covering a big chunk of the expenses. But it's a sign of the times when you see events like this going down."

Radio stations 92Q and WNST were also listed as previous sponsors on the event's Web site, as well as MASN, Marriott, Spalding, Chipotle and Pepsi, but Corrigan said several of those were nominal sponsorships or media trade deals.

"I hope maybe a new sponsor will step up" next year, Corrigan said. "It was always a lot of fun to see the national team come in every year feeling overconfident, and the Baltimore kids would beat up on these highfalutin recruits. It kind of spoke to the tradition here. They felt like they were protecting the honor of Baltimore basketball."


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