State Tourney Stays In Lincoln

The city of Lincoln has overcome another challenge from Omaha for hosting a state high school sporting event. It was decided Friday to keep the State Girls' Volleyball Championships in Lincoln for the next two years. However, a new venue has been added to the mix. Lincoln has hosted the State High School Volleyball Tournament since 1981, with the finals at Pershing Auditorium. Once again, a bid was put in to have the event moved to Omaha, using the new Qwest Center for many of the matches.  But Friday afternoon, the Nebraska School Activities Association Board of Control voted 4-2 to keep the tournament in Lincoln. NSAA Executive Director Jim Tenopir said it would have cost about 60-thousand-dollars more to use the Qwest Center, much of which is due to Omaha's city-wide seat-tax. Tenopir says,”We still have at the Qwest Center the 1 dollar per-ticket seat-tax, which basically added 35-thousand-dollars to the cost , if you take into consideration that this year our State Tournament did bring in 35-thousand people.” Last year, the board also voted to keep the State High School Wrestling Tournament in Lincoln, rather than move it to Omaha. Sandy Witkowicz, Lincoln C.V.B. Director says, “Lincoln is clean, safe, friendly, easy to drive around and those are the kinds of things Lincoln talks about when we presented our bid and our proposals.” There will be one big change though, next fall, the volleyball tournament finals will be moved from Pershing to the University of Nebraska Coliseum, where the Huskers play. Tenopir says, “That is an exciting aspect from our perspective and we're hpoing that it is as well for the many high school players across the state that aspire to get down here to the state tournament.” Pershing Auditorium and other local high school facilities will still be used for some early round matches, and in 2005 when the tournament finals fall on a home Nebraska football Saturday, they will be played at the Devaney Sports Center instead of the Coliseum. But the big news for city-leaders is the 'spike' that's kept in Lincoln's economy. Witkowicz says, “We figure that there's anywhere between 1.4 and 2.8 million-dollars that result from this tournament alone.” Friday's decision keeps the volleyball tournament in Lincoln for 2004 & 2005. The 2004 tournament has been scheduled for November 12th & 13th.