USA Volleyball tournament in Minneapolis expected to bring in $50 million

This week athletes at the Minneapolis Convention Center will be serving up digs and spikes. But it's the spike in tourism that the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships is once again bringing to Minneapolis.

"So, this is the second time in three years, and one of the things we said in 2014 is that it was larger than the Republican National Convention in '08,” said Melvin Tennant of Meet Minneapolis. “So, that's a very large event for us."

According the convention bureau Meet Minneapolis, these events are just as important as the Super Bowl.

The volleyball tournament expects to bring in 13,000 players to the Minneapolis Convention Center. With them come an additional 30,000 families and friends to watch. The estimated economic impact is $50 million.

But, St. Thomas finance Professor John Spry cautions that all economic impact numbers are suspect.

"There's a tendency to treat economic impact analysis as a form of public relations as opposed to an economic study that's going to be carefully reviewed," Spry said. 

The upcoming Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium is projected to bring in more than $300 million.

Professor Spry says don't bank on it.

"A great example is the All-Star Game a few years ago,” Spry said. “And it was hyped at $75 million and then when they looked at the sales data, it may have been as low as $21 million a year."  

But that makes niche events like the volleyball tournament all the more important to tourism mix.

Meet Minneapolis says it's still going after bigger marquee events, but it needs both small and big attractions.

"Again, they help you market other high profile events, but you just can’t live off of those marquee events, you need to have those events that are not necessarily high profile to fill your hotels and keep all of your hospitality employees employed throughout the year,” said Tennant. “It's not just those high profile events." 

Even Professor Spry says you have to market both major and niche events, after all you have to fill facilities like the stadium and the convention center.

Another big event coming up next month is the X-Games.