Iowa’s second-largest city is going from famine to feast this month as multiple major sports events are being held over the next few weeks that will mean millions of dollars to the local economy.

Jennifer Pickar, marketing director for the Cedar Rapids Tourism Office, says COVID-19 forced so many cancellations last year, it’s a thrill to finally fill up arenas again for cross country, soccer, volleyball, and gymnastics.

“We have two events that were originally scheduled for last fall that have been moved to April,” Pickar says. “One of those is our NAIA Men’s and Women’s Cross Country National Championships and the NJCAA Division II Volleyball Championships.”

Hundreds of college athletes will be in town for the cross country event that’s being held at the Seminole Valley Cross Country Course. That event, hosted by Mount Mercy University, was rescheduled from November of 2020 and opens tomorrow.

“There are 320 male and 320 female runners that will participate,” Pickar says, “and then there will be parents and families that will be coming to support their runners across the finish line, so we do expect that to be one of the larger events.”

Participants and spectators will be coming to Cedar Rapids from all across the country for some of the events and the tourism office is working to keep them up-to-date about COVID precautions.

“Our mayor does have a mask mandate in place so we are communicating that to the visitors coming in for these events,” Pickar says. “Each event does have safety protocols along with that as far as social distancing and masks and such. Our restaurants are open. A lot of them have signs on the doors, talking about masks.”

The Alliant Energy PowerHouse is the site of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Volleyball Championships which will be held April 13-15.

Kirkwood Community College is hosting the event with 16 teams from across the country. The PowerHouse is also hosting the XCEL Region IV Gymnastics Championships on April 23-25, while that same weekend, the 20th annual Chill Out Soccer Tournament will be held at the Tuma Soccer Complex, which is expected to draw thousands.