Fans Give "Thumbs Up" to Return of Volleyball to U.S. Cellular Center Arena
By Dave Franzman, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The return of Iowa High School Girls Volleyball to the refurbished U.S. Cellular Center arena downtown appears to be a hit with both athletic officials and fans.
For two years, the city’s largest sporting event played in temporary facilities at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. The move was necessary as the arena underwent a total renovation as part of the exhibition center and hotel work. But the four-day state tournament returned to its home since the early 1990’s on Tuesday morning.
Mike Dick, executive director of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, said he can’t imagine anything better than playing in what’s essentially a brand new facility.
“We’re extremely pleased, everything’s new. New restrooms, new concession stands better locker rooms new seats, wow it’s exciting to be in this venue,” Dick said.
The only potential complaint from fans seemed to be the parking situation. The ice arena had fewer seats and no nearby restaurants or other attractions. But it did have lots of free parking next to the facility. Moving back downtown, fans will have to pay for their parking with nearby parkades are offering a $5 event fee and access via skywalks.
Still Angie Muscal, a fan from Bettendorf, said that wasn’t a big deal when compared to what you got from the new U.S. Cellular Center by way of a fan experience.
“Access to the facility here is much better compared to the ice rink, I rode the bus and I remember last year we kind of had to detour through some neighborhoods so I think accessibility, getting to this place, is much better, “ Muscal said.
Downtown businesses that cater to a lunch crowd were also cheering the return of the girls volleyball teams.
Mike Monnahan, owner of the Blue Strawberry, said a lot of businesses missed the girls and fans when they were farther away at the ice arena. He didn’t see much in the way of extra business on the first day of the tournament that runs through Friday. But he was expecting volleyball business to pick up the rest of the week.
Athletic officials said 26,000 fans total bought tickets last year. They were hoping for a boost with the new facility. But that also depends on the match-ups and how many fans travel as much as anything.
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