SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – If you have been in downtown Sioux City, you are probably aware of the large number of out of town guests visiting this week.
All here, cheering for their favorite NAIA volleyball team.
But the cities partnership with the NAIA is much greater than volleyball.
Over the last 23 years wrestling, baseball, golf and basketball titles have also been handed out here.
It’s the championship experience that Siouxland provides that has the NAIA coming back time and time again.
“It just gets better and better. When you think it can’t get any better, it does,” said NAIA President Jim Carr.
Carr says, Sioux City elevates the bar for other championship cities like Topeka Kansas, set to host the 2020 bowling championship.
“He came out early to see how Sioux City runs the banquet how you get ready for the event how you work with the volunteers. All the things that go on behind the scenes but Sioux City makes it look easy,” added Carr.
This year’s volleyball champion gets crowned Saturday night but for Carr, who took over as NAIA, CEO in 2006, the 2020 basketball event is already tugging at his heart.
“It’s going to be a little bit sad to see us go away from that 32 team tournament when you have all those teams converging on one site playing for 7 days to win a championship. It’s like no other championship in the world really,” Carr said.
Beginning in 2021, only 176 teams will come to the championship site.
Just like the local tournaments, Carr says the association he leads is healthy “We just passed the 70,000 student athlete mark and we were at 65,000 just a couple years ago. Pretty much every metric we look at we’re growing our schools are committed to providing quality athletics and I feel good about where we are,” said Carr.
Right now the NAIA is home to 253 member schools but Carr says growth is possible, perhaps right here in Siouxland.
“There’s lots of opportunities and we are talking with some other schools I can’t talk about specifically but we’re trying to partner with the GPAC and other conferences in the area to attract those schools,” said Carr.
That’s something athletic teams at Briar Cliff and Morningside would likely welcome.