A Regional Sports Authority District grant provided by the Iowa Economic Development Authority is enabling the Council Bluffs Convention and Visitors Bureau to fund nine large-scale sporting events from October through June.
This is the 13th consecutive year the bureau received the dollars — this time in the amount of $55,555, according to organization Executive Director Mark Eckman. Other Iowa communities receiving funding are Ames, Cedar Valley, greater Burlington, greater Des Moines, Iowa City/Coralville, Quad Cities, Sioux City and Dubuque.
Previously, grant dollars have gone toward financing events like the NJCAA Men’s Wrestling National Championship, Heartland USA Wrestling National Duals, Council Bluffs Wrestling Classic, King of the MAC, Halloween Havoc, Rumble on the River, River City Classic Gymnastics, 3SSB Basketball Tournament and the Triple Crown Slumpbuster baseball tournament.
“It allows us to assist sporting events in a way that we wouldn’t be able to through any other means,” Eckman said during an interview with the Nonpareil. “Our budget, while not a small amount of money, is probably not equal to what our counterparts in Dubuque receive at Travel Dubuque, or otherwise, the Dubuque CVB.
“The same thing can be said of Iowa City — both of those two convention and visitors bureaus have budgets of over $1 million, and ours is at least $500,000 less than that.”
Grants like these not only offset some budgetary constraints, Eckman said, they also help funnel cash into the greater Bluffs community. In fact, travelers spent more than $350 million in Pottawattamie County in 2019, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
Eckman said that moving into Fiscal Year 2021 — FY 2020 ended June 30 — he and others are hoping for the going to be a bit smoother sailing and more financially advantageous. During FY 2020, Eckman said 13 Bluffs sporting events were cancelled, resulting in an estimated community impact of $20,968,937.
“If this would have been a normal year, we would have been able to assist 24 events that had an economic impact of more than $30 million, for the number of attendees and the number of events.”
The hope is to right the ship this year, and the state-funded grant should play a part. It’s something Eckman said he’s grateful to receive again.
“Not every community is that fortunate,” he said, referencing Council Bluffs. “There have been years Dubuque and Des Moines and the Quad cities have not received the grant, and they are generally annual applicants.
“So we don’t take this for granted. No pun intended.”
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