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Thousands of young athletes pour into Louisville for basketball showcase

The events at the Kentucky Exposition Center are a glimpse at large post-pandemic events in Kentucky.
Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 1:17 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After the COVID-19 pandemic, large events may never be the same, but they are starting to look more normal.

Monday at the Kentucky Exposition Center and Fairgrounds, thousands of families from across the country filled the parking lots for the final day of the Battle in the Boro Girls Basketball Tournament.

It was a glimpse, perhaps, at what large-scale events can look like after the pandemic.

Athletes were happy just to be back on the court.

“During the pandemic, I was on lockdown. I couldn’t go anywhere,” Hailee Swain, 14, from Atlanta, said. “I couldn’t play basketball, I couldn’t go out to eat, I couldn’t do anything. The fact that this tournament opened back up, I was too happy.”

Swain is an eighth grader, but you wouldn’t know that based on the college offers she’s already received.

The month of July has been packed with different tournaments at the Expo Center.

After a 2020 with no basketball, the Battle in the Boro was back, and maybe better.

“In 2019, we had over 1,100 teams. We knew people would come back, we just weren’t sure how fast they’d come back,” the director of the events, Tucker Neale, said. “The response here has been phenomenal.”

The number of teams from 2019 nearly doubled. They’re playing over 60 courts.

Between the athletes, the parents and even the college coaches on hand, it’s a huge bump for the city.

“Over 26,00 attendees, over $33 million in estimated economic impact,” Kentucky Venues spokesperson Ian Cox said. “There’s so much economic activity going on here, I’m seeing it at the restaurants and bars that I’m going to on the weekends.”

The size of the recent basketball tournaments has been appealing to the athletes.

“I’m definitely excited to come back next year,” Hailee said. “I hope it’s as big as it was this year.”

These tournaments give Kentucky Venues confidence moving forward toward other large events like the Kentucky State Fair.

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