A popular tourist spot in Waterloo that was damaged by flooding nearly seven months ago will hold a grand reopening Friday. Kent Sesker is the marketing director for the Dan Gable Wrestling Institute and Museum. Like many businesses in downtown Waterloo, the museum was buried under water when the Cedar River spilled out its banks on June 10th.
"We ended up having our basement, which is five-thousand square feet and nine feet high, completely full of water," Sesker said. "We had a lot of lost memorabilia and gift shop overflow…we ended up with three feet of water on the main floor which did considerable damage."
The flooding destroyed a thousands of posters, books, trading cards and DVDs – plus wrestling memorabilia and historic information stored in a dozen filing cabinets. The damage was estimated at $800,000. The museum did not have flood insurance, so Sesker says they relied on donations and a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We were really fortunate there and thankful that we were able to get that grant…which is basically the cost to rebuild the museum," Sesker said. The grand reopening coincides with the National Duals wrestling tournament, taking place Saturday and Sunday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. Many of the sport’s biggest names will be at the museum tomorrow for an autograph signing session.
Sesker says people can bring their own memorabilia and have it signed between 3 and 5 p.m. Six Olympic gold medalists are among the featured guests, including Dan Gable, who grew up in Waterloo, wrestled at Iowa State University and then coached at the University of Iowa.
Other athletes and native Iowans scheduled to appear at the autograph session are Cal Eldred, Bobby Hansen and Marv Cook. More information is available on the museum’s website .