October 15, 2013
They came to dig and spike — and they were so impressed with Columbus, they’ll be back for more.
USA Volleyball announced that it will hold its 2015 Boys’ Junior National Championships here, after having held a similar tournament last year.
The tournament — from June 28 to July 5, 2015 — is expected to attract 400-plus teams from across the country, more than 4,500 participants and at least 10,000 spectators. All these players and their families and fans are expected to book 22,000 hotel-room nights and spend $10 million.
The organization held its much larger Girls’ Junior National Championships in Columbus last year.
“I think the location is great,” said Tom Pingel, USA Volleyball senior director.
The Columbus area is a volleyball hotbed, he said, adding that the sport is popular in other communities within driving distance of Columbus, including Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis to the west, and Pennsylvania and New York to the east. California is the national hub for volleyball.
“Our ticket sales and (bookings at hotels were) as good as it’s ever been,” Pingel said of last year’s tournament. “It’s a positive destination for families to bring extra members.”
Last year, the girls’ tournament attracted 9,500 athletes, 20,000 spectators and $30 million in visitor spending.
The girls’ tournament has gotten so big, however, that it has outgrown the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Pingel said.
But it is large enough to host the boys’ junior championships, as well as the group’s adult championships, for many years to come.
“Yes, we’re interested in future bids” from Columbus, Pingel said.
The boys’ tournament will be co-hosted by the Greater Columbus Sports Commission and the Ohio Valley Region of USA Volleyball.
“We knew when the girls were here that we were the smallest market to host them, and we wanted to prove we could make it work,” said Linda Logan, executive director of the sports commission.
“And having them here enhanced what we can do. We learned a lot that has made us better and able to compete at a higher level for bigger events.”
The Hilton Columbus Downtown and Hyatt Regency Columbus will serve as the headquarters hotels for the boys’ tournament, but participants will stay in other hotels all over the city.
“There’s a lot to do in Columbus,” Pingel said, “and the city did a good job of informing our participants about the zoo and when the Clippers are in town.”