Waterloo hockey fans will always wonder about "what might have been", if the season could have played out. A Clarke Cup championship? Perhaps. One thing for sure is, people from around the Cedar Valley and northeast Iowa, sure love their hockey. Despite the cancellation of eight 2019/20 regular season home games due to the coronavirus, the team still drew more than 56,000 people for 22 contests. That's an average of over 2,500 people packing into Young Arena.

Area tourism professionals chose going to Waterloo Black Hawks games as the area’s "Outstanding Attraction" on Thursday during the annual Cedar Valley Tourism Awards.

Each year, Experience Waterloo and the Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitors Bureau spotlight businesses, organizations, and individuals in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and surrounding communities who enhance and improve visitor experiences. Thursday’s awards ceremony was held on-line. Initial nominations were made throughout the spring by visitors and members of the public.

In a press release, Black Hawks President of Business Operations Joe Greene said:

“We are very proud and honored to receive this award, because it is an affirmation of the Waterloo Black Hawks’ value to our community,” “I don’t need to tell anyone that times are difficult for tourism and hospitality businesses, but bringing people to Young Arena and downtown Waterloo has a multiplier effect on our business community. The entire industry will have a role in revitalizing the local economy when COVID-19 concerns diminish, and we look forward to playing our part.”

Black Hawks games have an estimated $2.4 million dollars in estimated annual economic impact. The Black Hawks organization has been at the forefront of many experience-enhancing renovations to city-owned Young Arena in recent years, which have included the Coors Light Cold Zone lounge, a new Party Town Outfitters team store, and retrofitting the building with luxury suites, all since 2015.

This is the second consecutive spring in which the Black Hawks have earned a significant local business award. In 2019, the team was named "Business of the Year" by Grow Cedar Valley, an honor bestowed for promoting the quality of life and making an outstanding contribution to the Cedar Valley community, economy, and residents.

Hopefully, the hockey community will be able to get back together for more exciting hockey in "Partytown" this fall.

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