Volleyball Teens Bring a Boost to Grand Island's Economy
Grand Island plays host to the State Volleyball Tournament, and they're seeing a boost to the city's economy.
More than 40 teams showed up on day one of the three day event, and according to the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, they're generating a multi-million dollar economic impact.
"Our town of 600 doesn't really have a mall," said Mackenzie Polacek of the Howells-Dodge volleyball team.
Her team came to the Conestoga Mall in Grand Island, where the sight of teenagers rushing to the mall in school busses is familiar for mall employees.
The Conestoga Mall General Manager, Tony Schultz, said, "When state volleyball first started up, we weren't sure what to expect, because we haven't had it before, but now you'll notice the stores will staff more people and they're ready for that rush."
Mackenzie said it was exciting to play in Lincoln in her freshman year of high school, but said she felt a different kind of hospitality in Grand Island.
Most teenagers contributed to retail sales, but the president of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, Cindy Johnson, said it's more than the high school teams.
"It's a multi–million dollar impact on this community. Think about the lodging alone, and then the followers that come with them the moms, dads, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors; They're here to celebrate in this sometimes once in a lifetime opportunity for the volleyball player," Johnson said.
The teens from the small towns of Howells and Dodge said their celebration was all about the memories they've made on the trip.
Although the traffic lasts for only three days, Johnson said it's great for the community in the long run. "The more times they come to Grand Island and become more familiar with our community the greater chances are that they will return, and if they return it could be for another experience, like a state volleyball or state fair, or it could be for a job or to go to school," Johnson said.