By Lexi Naegele, Athletic Communications Intern
The 2018 NAIA Men’s and Women’s Cross Country National Championships were held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This event brought over 2,600 coaches, school representatives, and student-athletes from 120 NAIA schools across the country. In addition, an estimated 1,500 more were in attendance at the races and awards ceremonies.
"Mount Mercy (Iowa) was honored to host its first-ever NAIA National Championship and enjoyed tremendous partnerships with the NAIA, the Cedar Rapids Sports Tourism Office, Cedar Rapids Marriott (host hotel), and our corporate sponsors: F & M Bank, ITS, Centro Inc., and Budget Car Sales of Cedar Rapids,” said Paul Gavin, Mount Mercy athletic director. “These vendors helped us create a ‘national tournament feel’, especially at the Marriott and at Seminole Valley Park.”
A total of 1,191 room nights were booked throughout the entirety of the championships that raised the economic impact for the Cedar Rapids tourism bureau.
“The NAIA Cross Country National Championships had a positive impact on Cedar Rapids’ local economy,” said Mary Lee, Cedar Rapids director of sports tourism. “Teams were visible throughout our community as they experienced what our area had to offer. Hotels enjoyed an uptick in occupancy during a week that is historically slower. It was a pleasure showcasing our city during this prestigious event.”
This year, Cedar Rapids produced a total economic impact of $673,895.25, showing the visibility and excitement of the Cedar Rapids community leading up to the 2018 national championships.
NAIA’s Teaming Up for Character™ community event program consisted of a 1k Fun Run for kids in the community. Mount Mercy held this run based on a partnership with the CR Public School system, where they were able to bring in 350 local elementary school kids to participate. NAIA athletes partnered with teams of elementary students to share the NAIA 5 core values (integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership).
While Seminole Valley was designed in a first-class course layout for the championships, they revealed that they also intend to use the course to host upcoming regional, state, and national events. This would bring not only a consistent use of the investment of the course, but continued public and media exposure as they look towards their hosting of the 2020 NAIA Cross Country National Championships again.
To learn more about hosting an NAIA Championship, visit naia.com/host.