Thousands take part in volleyball tournament, first major event at Colorado Convention Center in over a year – CBS Denver
DENVER (CBS4) – Thousands of volleyball players along with their coaches and family members participated in the first day of the Colorado Crossroads tournament on Friday, the first major event at the convention center more than a year after the start of the pandemic. Local leaders and event planners say a coordinated response began months before the convention center reopened to host large gatherings like the tournament’s return to downtown.
“It’s crazy to think that last year when we were here was when it all started to unfold,” said Whitney Loman, 16, a tournament competitor this weekend.
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Loman traveled with his mother and other players from Nebraska, driving to Denver Thursday night. She had to test negative for COVID-19 in order to participate and her mother has shown proof that she was fully vaccinated.
“I remember going up those escalators last year and looking around thinking COVID is here? Sara Loman told CBS4 on Friday. “We are very happy to be here.”
It’s not their first tournament, but they say the demands in Colorado are more specific than what they’ve seen in their home state. They don’t mind the restrictions, which limit them to one guest per player and put a capacity limit on the number of girls on a court at a time, no more than 25 people. The regional tournament is also a junior qualifying event for American volleyball.
“This was the last group in our convention center a year ago and the first to return,” said Richard Scharf, CEO of Visit Denver. “It took a lot of forethought because we had to make a lot of plans well in advance when we couldn’t have a meeting of this size.”
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Another challenge for this particular event was to meet the needs of visitors from 30 different states and the different policies of the individual companies involved, including airlines, hotels and suppliers. COVID restrictions and guidelines change based on region or industry.
“There are so many variables, each state has its own unique situation,” Scharf told CBS4 on Friday. “We have several events booked throughout the year, but I have to say that each has their own challenge.”
He says this year’s schedule still won’t compare to what they saw in 2019, but he’s optimistic 2022 will bring many needed guests downtown and generate millions of missing dollars in the economy. Colorado since the pandemic.
“It’s really a tipping point for companies that have really suffered,” he said.
So many people back on the streets downtown walking in and out of the convention center, hotels and restaurants were a welcome sight and these visitors say it was great to reunite with others after almost a year to miss the competition.
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“Looking back on this whole year that we’ve had, it’s kinda crazy and now that we’re back it’s kind of a loop moment,” Loman said.