State Volleyball Brings Players, Fans, and Dollars to GI

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Keeping 48 volleyball teams and their fans moving between games and facilities takes a lot of coordination.

But organizers say it's worth it to make state volleyball a good experience for all.

"It's just a great opportunity for Grand Island to host this event," says Dianne Willey, the Fonner Park and Heartland Events Center Sales and Marketing Director. "We just appreciate the fact that it is here and we want to show our fans and teams that hospitality."

Officials say it's only possible thanks to dozens of volunteers - something GI has become known for during the State Fair.

"For Grand Island to be able to showcase our city, it's just great," says volunteer Sue Pirnie. "We've got a lot of things to do here and a lot of places to go shopping and everything like that."

And officials say good hospitality makes people enjoy those things more. Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Johnson says that making people feel welcome means they're more likely to return even when the volleyball games are over.

"Often what happens is once an individual or a family becomes comfortable with a community, they visit that community more often," says Johnson.

Johnson says GI can count on the 35,000 people who come to the three-day tournament to buy gas, food, and lodging.

But she says there's also a trickle-down when businesses add hours and employees to handle the crowds.

"All of those visits, all of the activity that brings individuals to the community results in economic impact for the community," Johnson says.

And she says Grand Island looks forward to feeling that impact again next November when the state tournament returns.