Wall-to-wall volleyball boon for Marshall

MARSHALL – When an event like the Southwest Minnesota Challenge volleyball tournament comes to Marshall, the anticipation doesn’t just stay on the court. With more than 30 teams, plus spectators and supporters, arriving today and Saturday, there’s an impact for local businesses as well.

“It’s a great tournament for Marshall,” said Linda Erb of the Marshall Convention and Visitors Bureau. Both the CVB and local businesses have had a chance to prepare for the event. “We’ve posted it on the front page of our website, and we have the brackets.” She said the tournament brackets are of as much interest to local hotels as they are to fans, because they give an idea of how many people will come to town.

The Southwest Minnesota Challenge volleyball tournament is bringing together teams from 32 high schools to compete at Marshall High School and Southwest Minnesota State University this weekend. Competitors include teams from southwest Minnesota, as well as teams traveling from as far away as the Twin Cities area, Sioux Falls, S.D., and West Fargo, N.D.

One of the positive things about the tournament is that it brings in volleyball players and spectators from outside the region, said Erb and Cal Brink, director of the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce.

“That’s exactly what we’re looking for,” Erb said.

Brink said a large sports tournament like the Southwest Minnesota Challenge could bring as many as 1,000 people to Marshall. Factor in visitors’ spending for things like lodgings, food and gasoline, and the economic impact is considerable. Visitors may also be looking for area attractions and things to do while they’re staying here, Brink said.

The money visitors spend in Marshall goes into the local economy, where it can continue to help businesses and area residents, Erb said.

Having large special events, things to do and places to do business is good for the Marshall area, Brink said.

“We’re trying to create a destination,” he said. That’s where future developments like the regional amateur sports center can help. Brink said organizations like the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce will also continue to develop ways to encourage people to spend money at local businesses.

It’s not only the presence of tournaments and amenities that are good for business, however. Brink and Erb said one of the draws for teams to compete in the Southwest Minnesota Challenge is the experience. It’s a good sign that the tournament has continued to thrive in Marshall, they said.

“It reflects how well (teams) like the tournament,” Brink said. “If they have a bad experience while they’re here, they won’t want to come back.”

In the time that the tournament has been held in Marshall, Erb said, “It’s done nothing but grow.”