Local businesses in downtown Elkhart reaps the benefit of local aquatic center hosting a Midwest swimming and diving championship

NOW: Local businesses in downtown Elkhart reaps the benefit of local aquatic center hosting a Midwest swimming and diving championship

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ELKHART, Ind -- Local businesses have been struggling during the pandemic in Elkhart but this week the Elkhart Health and Aquatic Center is hosting the 2022 Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship for swimming and diving and it seems to be bringing much needed attention.

This is the second year the second consecutive year the center has hosted this event and after not having any spectators in 2021, things are a bit different this year.

The state of the art facility opened just before the start of the pandemic, causing immediate concerns for the use of the 170,000 square foot complex.

"The aquatics center is operating as we once thought it should. We opened right prior to the pandemic and never had this kind of event here," said Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson.

As the host of the event that supports multiple teams across the Midwest, they were unable to have guests in 2021.

Fast forward to 2022, the stands are filled.

"Being able to have spectators, even at 50 percent capacity just adds that much more excitement and buzz," said Director of Communication for Elkhart County Convention & Visitor Bureau Terry Mark.

The foot traffic of families and competitors making downtown Elkhart and Main Street the place to be.

"The past couple years, they’ve had swim meets but they haven’t had I guess spectators, so we didn’t see one person come in from that but now this year, like today and yesterday, literally lines out the door," said Old Style Deli Owner Derek Ogawa.

Part of that is a thanks to the places like the visitor's  bureau for Elkhart County.

"We have been directing visitors to local restaurants. Places where whether it’s mom and dad getting together with their children who are competitors or just fans just helping direct them to the great places to eat and drink in Elkhart," said Mark.

"For all of our restaurants, all of our hotels, all of the small shops and merchants that are in or around the aquatic center, it brings a business relationship to them," said Roberson.


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