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May 26, 2004

First-Ever D2 Championship Festival A Big Success

FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE come reports of a hugely successful first-ever Division II National Championships Festival.

Staged at various venues in the Orlando area, the ambitious 5-day event (May 12-16) involved 655 student-athletes from 70 teams and 18 conferences competing in six sports: men’s and women’s golf, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s tennis, and women’s softball.

Furthermore, the festival was an economic boon to an already tourist concentrated resort destination. The estimated economic impact was $2.5 million, which included 7300 hotel room nights for participants, staff and related visitors.

The event was considered so successful that there was early speculation about future championship festivals, including fall and winter versions. There were representatives on hand in Orlando from cities interested in staging future festival events: Cleveland, Denver and Dominguez Hills CA.

The festival featured well-accepted opening and closing ceremonies. The opening ceremony featured Bonnie Bernstein of CBS and the rock group Collective Soul. The closing ceremony featured NCAA president Myles Brand and the ebullient and effervescent basketball commentator Dick Vitale.

Even though Vitale uttered his signature: “You’re awesome baby! With a capital ‘A’,” the gathered faithful walked away happy nonetheless.

An after-the-fact assessment of the event would have to be nothing but positive. The “minor” sports struggle for attention all year. The synergistic benefits of lumping them all together would seem to far outweigh the logistical challenges.

Kudos to the NCAA and the Central Florida Sports Commission for a job well done.

(this 241 word excerpt—with accompanying comments—was drawn from 6 articles totaling 3175 words in the NCAA News of 5-24-04)