By Tara Bannow
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Wrestling great Dan Gable opened his speech at this year’s Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau annual luncheon by telling the audience about the time he pooped his pants as a college freshman before the first round of a wrestling championship — and still won.
“I don’t think I should have told that,” Gable said after the story.
Wrestling was the overarching theme of the luncheon, at which several wrestling coaches were guests, including the USA Wrestling National Women’s team and coach Terry Steiner, a University of Iowa alumnus. Gable told the story of this specific wrestling match in response to conversation about the phrase often used by Iowa head coach Tom Brands when he says it’s time for someone to make a choice about whether they’re going to get tough or whether they are going give up — and poop their pants.
Iowa City will host the Olympic Wrestling Trials in April 2012, an event the CVB estimates will have an economic impact of more than $4 million.
“It’s about time wrestling really gets to support the area,” Gable, who spent 21 years as head coach at Iowa, said.
The trials are expected to draw more than 8,000 fans, 85 percent of whom will travel from outside of the area. A local team, led by CVB president Josh Schamberger, initially submitted the bid to host the trails in November 2010, and Iowa City was selected over other, much larger, cities such as Columbus, Ohio; Detroit and Oklahoma City.
Brands called Iowa City “the premier wrestling city in the U.S. and maybe the world.” He credited Schamberger with bringing the 2012 Olympic Wrestling Trials to Iowa City.
“One guy has to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and he did that,” Brands said.
A number of local city officials presented awards of excellence to area businesses and individuals. Kelly Hayworth, Coralville city administrator, presented the CVB Member of the Year award to Scheels Sporting Goods, praising the company for its community involvement and support. Iowa City city manager Tom Markus presented the Hospitality Person of the Year award to Mike Quinlan, who coordinates community projects with the Department of Corrections through AmeriCorps and the Hope House.
The CVB annual report stated that tourism was strong component of the local economy in 2010, when visitors to the community spent more than $311 million and another roughly $19 million in state and local taxes. The CVB hosted 84 conferences, meetings and sporting events in 2010, which attracted more than 33,500 visitors who spent more than $5.7 million in Johnson County, the report said. It also has future events booked that are projected to bring in more than $10 million.
The CVB’s annual report also said that for every dollar Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty invested in the organization in 2010, they will see a return of $16.52.
The annual report highlighted the local economic impact of several popular events the CVB hosted in 2010, including FRY Fest, which celebrates Hawkeye sports in early September; RAGBRAI, an annual bicycle ride across Iowa; and the Landlocked Film Festival, an independent film festival in Iowa City.
Schamberger, who said the CVB is celebrating its 30th anniversary, praised area city council members, mayors and other elected officials, and said he’s thankful that their leadership doesn’t end at their respective municipal boundaries.
“It is with this vision and their leadership that we have another year of accomplishments to celebrate,” he said.