Papillion is in the running to host a regional — and dare we say magical — sports tournament this fall.
The city is one of two finalists vying to host U.S. Quidditch’s Midwest Regional Championship, an event that would draw more than a dozen collegiate teams to the area and spur a few hundred thousand dollars in spending in Sarpy County. The game is an adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s creation in the Harry Potter series, where players take to the sky on broomsticks.
The nonmagical competition is a coed, full-contact sport that combines elements of rugby, dodgeball and tag. Seven players per team mount brooms made of PVC pipe and attempt to throw balls through tall hoops to score points.
La Crosse, Wisconsin, is the other finalist.
[Read more: From Hogwarts to Creighton: This is muggles quidditch, a real sport combining elements of rugby, dodgeball and tag]
Sarpy County has hosted Quidditch events in the past, including a six-team tournament in October in La Vista, said Fred Uhe, director of Sarpy County Tourism.
U.S. Quidditch expects to make selections by the end of the month. In addition to considering the location and quality of facilities, they’ll also take into account financial and community support.
Host cities of previous U.S. Quidditch events have seen an economic impact of $150,000 to $300,000. That comes from hotel stays, dining and other activities. If Sarpy County receives the bid, Uhe said they hope the tournament generates $300,000 or more.
They expect between 200 and 300 athletes — most from out of town — at the event, which would be held in October or November. It could draw 500 or more spectators.
Games would take place on synthetic turf fields — indoors or outdoors — at Papillion Landing, near 96th and Lincoln Streets.
Papillion Landing, a $48 million project, includes a field house, community center and outdoor fields. The 80,000-square-foot field house opened in November. An outdoor field should open this fall and the community center should follow in early 2020, said recreation superintendent Tim Moran. The field house was booked almost daily this winter with practices, leagues and other events, he said.
Creighton University’s Quidditch team, in its fourth year, likely would play in the regional tournament, said Curtis Taylor, the team’s head coach and assistant director of Creighton’s intercultural center.
“You’ve just got to see it,” Taylor said of the sport. “It’s a great opportunity for kids that love Harry Potter to come out and see their hopes and dreams of seeing Quidditch is there. … Those who bleed blue around here can bleed blue in a weirder way and a cool way. Finding local support would be fabulous.”
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