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Omaha suburb hoping to host magical event: quidditch tourney

Posted at 1:35 PM, Jun 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-22 14:35:14-04

PAPILLION, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha suburb is a finalist for what some might call a magical sporting event: the Midwest Regional Championship of quidditch.

Papillion is vying with La Crosse, Wisconsin, for the honor. Mary Kimball, events director for the U.S. Quidditch organization, said selections will be announced next week for the 2019 and 2020 events.

This form of quidditch is a ground-bound adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s creation in the “Harry Potter” book series, where players from the magic school take to the sky on broomsticks. The full-contact sport combines elements of rugby, dodgeball and tag. Seven players per team mount brooms made of PVC pipe and attempt to score by throwing balls through tall hoops.

In addition to considering the location and quality of facilities, U.S. Quidditch officials will take into account financial and community support.

The games would take place on indoor and outdoor synthetic turf fields at Papillion Landing, a $48 million project that includes a field house and community center.

Sarpy County already has hosted quidditch events, including a six-team tournament last October in La Vista, said Fred Uhe, director of Sarpy County Tourism.

A tourism official told the Omaha World-Herald that host cities of previous U.S. Quidditch events have seen an economic impact of $150,000 to $300,000. That comes from hotel stays, dining and other activities. Sarpy County organizers expect up to 300 athletes — most from out of town — at the event, which would be held in October or November. It could draw 500 or more spectators.

Creighton University’s quidditch team likely would play in the regional tournament, said Curtis Taylor, the team’s head coach and assistant director of Creighton’s intercultural center.

“You’ve just got to see it,” Taylor said of the sport. “It’s a great opportunity for kids that love ‘Harry Potter’ to come out and see their hopes and dreams of seeing quidditch is there.”