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New life for the Gus Macker

Never say never when it comes to Western New York and the Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

More than a month after tournament organizers from Gus Macker read last rites for the event in the Buffalo area for 2015, a Grand Island promoter has made a play to take over the event and will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce announcing the return of the tournament for this summer.

Corey McGowan and his production company will organize the outdoor basketball tournament that is expected to take place along Grand Island Boulevard near the business district. Although McGowan’s website does not indicate a date for the event, one broadcast report said the Macker is slated for Aug. 29-30. Placement of a Gus Macker registration link on the website’s calendar seems to indicate that would be the weekend to hold the tournament.

McGowan did not reveal any details during a brief interview with the News on Monday, but he did say the event will be a fundraiser to benefit a local group. He didn't say which local group, adding he'd reveal all details during Thursday's gathering.

In the past, the event served as a fundraiser for the Buffalo Police Athletic League. However, two separate sources say the PAL is not involved with this effort to rekindle the tournament.

Macker Event Manager Bill Gorman confirmed the press conference for Thursday but referred all questions to his boss Scott McNeal, the owner of the Gus Macker. McNeal declined comment when reached by the News.

More than a month ago, McNeal said there wouldn’t be a Buffalo-area tournament due to the change in management teams at Darien Lake during the offseason. Still, he left the door open slightly that the tournament could return in the future. He likes the Buffalo-area stop because it’s historically been one of the bigger tournament fields in the country.

So who is Corey McGowan?

According to McGowan’s website (, the Grand Island native has orchestrated more than 200 events throughout the area since 2012 – including the founding of the Taste of Grand Island. The first Taste of Grand Island served as a fundraiser to provide funds for a completion of a mural project.

“It is a main priority that festivals produced by Corey McGowan Productions, all tie into local charities or rehabilitation project,” according to a message on his website.

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