hoopstarsgraphicROCKFORD – State Senator Steve Stadelman is expanding his free 3-on-3 youth basketball tournament to accommodate an anticipated 400 or more players – twice as many as competed in 2014 – with the continued goal of evolving into a large-scale, signature community event.

Registration is open until Sept. 2 to boys and girls in 3rd through 8th grades at www.senatorstadelmanhoopstars.eventbrite.com.

Stadelman said the HoopStars tournament again will take place at Davis Park immediate following the Labor Day parade, but the number of courts will increase from four to eight. The event also will feature expanded courtside activities as state agencies and local nonprofit groups that provide children and family services join event sponsors at information booths offering interactive displays and giveaways. Families attending the tournament also can enjoy music and kids rides at no charge, courtesy of Rockford United Labor, which holds its annual picnic for union members at the same time and place.

“I’m encouraged that interest in the tournament remains strong and grateful to the event partners whose generosity provides equipment, game officials, advertising, T-shirts, trophies and more,” said Stadelman, noting that AT&T signed on this year to help defray costs of the HoopStars expansion.

Stadelman emphasized that HoopStars’ primary purpose won’t change even as the youth tournament   moves toward becoming a premier amateur sports event in the spirit of Gus Macker, the adult basketball competition that for years took place on dozens of downtown streets.

“My reason for organizing this event is to give kids -- particularly those from low-income families and inner-city neighborhoods -- a positive, no-cost way to end the summer,” he said. “HoopStars is about the love of the game and kids having a ball.”