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Colorado Convention Center kicks off 1st major event since pandemic began

More than 20,000 visitors from 30 states are coming to Denver over two weekends.

DENVER — After a lengthy pandemic pause, the Colorado Convention Center welcomed its first city-wide event in over a year.

Thousands of volleyball players and their families will be at the Colorado Convention Center, beginning Friday, for the 2021 Crossroads Volleyball Tournament.

One of the largest youth volleyball tournaments in the country, the tournament features hundreds of youth girls volleyball teams vying for a spot in the Junior National Girls Volleyball Championship.

In 2020, the tournament was the last event to be hosted inside the Convention Center. Organizers had to cancel the events second weekend just hours before it was slated to begin. 

"Typically, about 70% of our teams come from outside Colorado," tournament Director Kay Rogness said.  "So they felt pretty cheated that they didn't get their tournament, so I think a lot of them are really happy to be back."

The volleyball tournament will be held over the next two weeks, with COVID-19 safety guidelines in place, and will bring more than 20,000 visitors to Denver.

While the organization welcomed back more than 400 teams, competing looks a little different; social distancing is encouraged, mask are required at all times even during play and the more than 10,000 people attending this weekend had to have proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.

Safety steps the Aspire Volleyball Club from Arizona are happy to abide by. The team was able compete last year but didn't finish their run due to the championship being cancelled. 

"We get to finally finish what we started at nationals," player Neomi Beach, said. "It's kind of exciting so it'll be great."

Visit Denver said the event is expected to generate over $13.5 million in economic impact for the city, in addition to bringing a boost to Denver restaurants and businesses and filling rooms in more than 50 hotels across the metro area.

RELATED: National Western Center, Colorado Convention Center to receive $274M in revenue bonds

The tournament kicks off just one week after the Colorado Convention Center launched construction on its expansion project, said Visit Denver.

When complete in late 2023, the expansion will allow for an estimated 25 additional events per year, generating an additional $85 million in annual economic impact.

Visit Denver anticipates a rebound of the convention industry to pre-pandemic levels in 2024.   

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Colorado Convention Center