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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union will wait until January to decide whether to keep the state volleyball tournament in Cedar Rapids or move to Coralville.
Athletic Union board members decided at a meeting Wednesday they want to gather more information about netting systems, scoreboards, seating and nearby hotels for the competing venues before making a decision.
They noted how Cedar Rapids’ businesses had lighted buildings pink to welcome the tournament Monday through Thursday at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse in downtown Cedar Rapids, which has hosted the state competition for 31 years.
But the welcome hasn’t always been this warm, board members said.
“They could have been doing some things the past few years to say ‘Hey, we love you. This is valuable to our community.’ And not just rallying the troops because this a decision-making year for us,” said D’Anne Kroemer, a board member and athletic director at Pleasant Valley High School.
“It’s a big decision for us,” Union Executive Director Jean Berger said.
While the most recent contract between the Union and the Cedar Rapids venue was for 10 years, the union is considering a 5-year or 10-year contract for this next round.
The group plans to gather additional information and weigh which venue is better for players, coaches, fans and administrators.
The group expects to make a decision at its Jan. 12 meeting in Des Moines.
The four-day, 40-team state volleyball tournament typically draws 28,000 to 30,000 people and generates about $2 million in consumer spending downtown as players and families stay at hotels, eat at restaurants and buy gas for the drive home.
Cedar Rapids and its partners, including the PowerHouse, DoubleTree Hilton Hotel and Convention Center, the Metro Economic Alliance and VenuWorks, submitted a proposal to the union earlier this fall.
The 9,000-seat arena also hosts concerts, rodeos, boat shows and professional basketball, soccer and indoor football events.
The other contender for the volleyball tournament is Coralville, which has the new Xtream Arena.
The arena, home of the University of Iowa volleyball program and the Iowa Heartlanders minor-league hockey team, seats 5,100 — more with floor seats — and has warm-up courts in the adjacent GreenState Family Fieldhouse.
The state volleyball tournament also has been good to the athletic union, which governs all girls high school sports in Iowa.
Greg Ebeling, outgoing board president and superintendent of Pella Community Schools, said Wednesday the tournament makes more money for the union than any other state tournament, including girls basketball.
In other business, the Athletic Union board says it will move forward with the sanctioning process for girls wrestling now that more than 50 schools have formed teams.
“There are 50 schools that have full teams now (and) others say they’ve put resources aside to grow that,” said Erin Kirtley, the Athletic Union associate director assigned to girls wrestling. “Once that sanctioning decision is made, I could see another 20 schools saying ‘we’re in.’ ”
The Athletic Union will need to decide on a season and what to do with schools that only have a handful of athletes, among other questions, Berger said.
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