Lincoln Hopes to Keep State Basketball Championship with New Bid

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Saturday is the last day for the 2009 Boys and Girls State Basketball Championships in Lincoln; and 2010 could be the last year it's held in the Capital City all together.

For the last four years, Nebraska's best and brightest in high school basketball have arrived in Lincoln to compete for the prestigious title of state champions. And Capital City businesses benefit, big time.

"It's amazing, the benefit to our local economy," said City Council Chair Robin Eschliman. "Statistics tell us that each person that comes as a tourist probably spends between $200 and $300 per person."

Which can really add up.

"We've estimated the economic impact at $1.5 million to $2 million," said Jeff Maul of the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It varies depending on the tournament. State high school basketball is a tremendous event so it probably pushes that number on the higher side."

Next month though, the Nebraska schools activities association will vote on the next location for the tournaments.

"We have some conversations with Omaha on this coming Tuesday of this coming week to see if that have an interest," said Jim Tenopir, the Nebraska School Athletic Association executive director. "At this point they have not expressed an interest in basketball, but they do want to explore what options are available for hosting championships."

Lincoln could lose the basketball championship to a city with newer facilities, like Omaha.

"Since we haven't moved forward with the arena, i believe we are in same danger," Eschliman said.

"The delay of the arena - a lot of people looked at it like, 'well now what are we gonna do,'" said Maul. "The fact is in Lincoln, none of our facilities are truly broke. We've got great facilities at UNL, Lincoln public schools."

And the community awarded the championships will capitalize on the crowds --

"There's always a threat. There's always competition," Maul said. "What we have to do is really focus on why Lincoln is the best destination for these folks and really show them why our facilities are where the kids need to be playing."

Which means competition - not only with opposing sports team, but also competing cities.

The NSAA will meet with the Omaha Sports Commission Tuesday to discuss Omaha's interest in tournaments.

Then, it will hear bid proposals on April 2 and vote on which cities get get each tournament on April 3.