Expect thousands to the Grand Strand for Quidditch World Cup

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Whether you're grabbing a broomstick and playing, or sitting in the stands to watch the event, the Quidditch World Cup is coming to North Myrtle Beach, and events kick off this weekend.  The event that usually takes place in Florida, New York or Vermont, is taking off for the first time in the Grand Strand.

It's anticipated to bring 80 teams, from 23 states and three nations to our area.  Set-up began today to prepare for the 1,600 players and thousands of fans that are expected.

It's a game inspired by the Harry Potter series, that brought more than 300 teams from colleges, high schools and communities worldwide.

"It's a mix between rugby and dodgeball and a little bit of tag and other elements as well," said Sarah Woosley with the International Quidditch Association.

The game involves many elements, including trying to catch the "snitch," the player dressed in gold shorts, and trying to shoot the quaffle, a ball, through the opposing teams hoop, all while keeping a broom between your legs.

"It's one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, and it's great to be here where people can actually come out and see it," said City of North Myrtle Beach Superintendent of Sports Tourism Matt Gibbons. "It's something they'll be hearing a lot more of in the future, so to have it here in our own community is pretty special, and a lot of people are interested in it. We've been getting a lot of calls."

North Myrtle Beach officials think this weekend's tournament is going to keep generating revenue for the long haul.  The new sports park in North Myrtle Beach just recently opened and already saw around a $2-million-dollar impact in its first month in March. The Quidditch World Cup is one of around 70 events already planned at the sports complex for the year, which the city says is exactly what it hoped for in building this complex.

The weekend will feature performances by the North Myrtle Beach Middle School Jazz band, in the opening ceremonies and a live show from singer-songwriter Howie Day and Harry and the Potters.

Tickets are on sale right now, and if you're from North Myrtle Beach, you can get a discounted rate at the gate.

It won't be the only sport driving visitors to the sports complex this weekend. Saturday also kicks off baseball and softball opening day.

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