SIOUX CITY | The NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship has become as much a right of spring here as the melting of the snow and the chirping of birds in the air.
Since 1998, Sioux City has played host to 32 of the nation’s top basketball teams from NAIA Division II. It has not only provided excitement for basketball fans, but acted as an economic boost for the city as well.
According to David Harris, a sports and sales representative for Sioux City, the “bounce” businesses see during tournament time -- the second week of March each year -- can approach $4 million.
That’s what happens when nearly 34,000 people pass through the gates to see the action, a number that doesn’t include hundreds of players and coaches.
The tournament was held in Monmouth, Ore., from its inception in 1992 until 1995, when it moved to Angola, Ind., for two years. It’s been firmly entrenched in Sioux City since 1998, first at the Sioux City Auditorium and for the last decade at the Tyson Events Center.
Walsh (Ohio) captured the national championship the first season it was held here, defeating Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) 73-66 in the title game. Shawnee State (Ohio) and Mary (N.D.) won the next two and in 2001, the Great Plains Athletic Conference began to flex its muscles.
Northwestern won its first of five national crowns that season and GPAC schools proceeded to win the next five years. Hastings went back-to-back in 2002 and 2003 while Morningside College, the hometown school, reigned supreme in 2004 and 2005. Hastings won again in 2006.
Northwestern’s five crowns set the pace as the Red Raiders won again in 2008 and three in a row from 2010-2012. Morningside captured its third championship in 2009.