Milwaukee to welcome thousands for volleyball tournament at Wisconsin Center

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Thousands of people will head downtown Milwaukee this weekend for two youth sports tournaments.

On March 6 and 7, the Wisconsin Center will host its first non-governmental event since the Democratic National Convention. The convention center in downtown Milwaukee will host the Wisconsin Juniors Volleyball Club for two tournaments. 

"It has been almost a year to the day since the last time we were able to host an event like this, and we could not be more excited," said Sarah Maio, vice president of marketing and communications for the Wisconsin Center District.

Maio said 200 teams are registered, and each player is allowed one spectator. A total of 1,250 people are allowed in the exhibition hall at one time, under the safety plan approved by the Milwaukee Health Department.

Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee, estimates about 4,000 people to come to Milwaukee for this event throughout the weekend.

(Because) they're only allowing one spectator per athlete, there will be families that will be out and about, and it's supposed to be absolutely gorgeous this weekend so there will be people out in our museums frequenting our restaurants and our bars," Williams-Smith said.

Maio said it's also the first weekend in almost a year the Wisconsin Center will have multiple events. The ballroom is still serving as the city's vaccine distribution center.

The Wisconsin Center hosted the presidential election recount in November and the DNC in August.

"Those are all milestone events and we're so glad to be here for it, but to be able to bring back youth sports for the first time definitely gives us some nervous anticipation," Maio said.

Badger Region Volleyball will host a three-week tournament starting next weekend. Maio said the next four weekends are expected to bring a total of $6.5 million in economic impact.

"The hospitality community has been severely devastated by the pandemic, and this is going to be an opportunity for them to service guests who are coming in from out of town and infuse some much needed revenue into our tourism ecosystem," Williams-Smith said.

The teams will be required to enter through specific doors or come through the skywalks so they are kept separate from people getting vaccinated. They will only be allowed in the building 15 minutes before their tournament and will be required to exit the building 15 minutes after their tournament, according to Maio.

"There will be 30 minutes between tournaments, when our staff will go through and disinfect common surfaces and reset the seats for the spectators," she said.

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