Who needs the much-vaunted Super Bowl to make a buck?

The normally fallow Fourth of July weekend proved a boom for downtown restaurateurs and hoteliers thanks to a bunch of amateur volleyball players.

In fact, more than 40,000 players, coaches and related visitors participated in the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships at the Minneapolis Convention Center that concluded its 10-day run Tuesday, making it the single-biggest visitor event of the year.

CEO Melvin Tennant of Meet Minneapolis, the former convention and visitors bureau, estimated before the tournament that it would have a $50 million local economic  impact.

Meet Minneapolis estimates that visitors spend $300-plus a day, including food and lodging.

Assuming a four-day stay per attendee, that gets you to $50 million.

At Hell’s Kitchen, the popular downtown restaurant, Pat Forciea, president-and-minority owner, said the take averaged nearly $240,000 per week during the 10-day tournament, compared to the normal weekly average of about $170,000.

Forciea said the restaurant, which employs 180 people, last set a weekly-revenue record two years ago for the same USA Volleyball tournament. This proves, if nothing else, that amateur volleyball is a powerful as the stadium-subsidized NFL, at least for a couple weeks, when it comes to grassroots interest. And no head spearing or brain injuries!

It doesn’t hurt loop business that the eye-catching Minnesota Twins started an important home stand on Monday, That trade, however, is mostly local fans who may run the downtown bar-and-food tab but generally aren’t renting many hotel rooms.

Kristen Montag, a marketer with Meet Minneapolis, said the next-largest event this year after USA Volleyball is next week’s “X Games.”

Last year, the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee estimated the Twin Cities area could reap $338 million in economic activity from the February 2018 game. However economists around the country often question the economic projections behind one-time professional sports events.

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