MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than 10,000 craft brewing enthusiasts are in downtown Minneapolis for their annual convention, marking the biggest convention in Minneapolis since 2019.

With it comes hope to the downtown community for a continued recovery from the pandemic.

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The vendors are from around the country and the world, as are the convention visitors.

Minneapolis officials can barely contain their enthusiasm. The city owns the Convention Center. Profits go towards paying down city debt on the Target Center and U.S. Bank Stadium.

Convention revenues plunged from $20 million in 2019 to $6 million in 2020. Estimates say it will take the Convention Center three years to build back business.

The city is not the only one excited about the return of big conventions. Just talk to any of the businesses downtown who have been struggling for the past two years, like Brit’s Pub.

(credit: CBS)

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“It’s huge. Convention Center business for Brit’s has always been really really important,” Shane Higgins said.

WCCO spotted a group of brewers enjoying a cold one are from Delaware.

“Between travel, food, beverage, hotel, you are probably looking at an easy $1,000 per guest on the low end, probably,” Matt Lindy said.

Perhaps more importantly, WCCO found two convention visitors from Inver Grove Heights, back downtown for the first time in years.

“It’s really great to be downtown. It’s really great to be back down here,” Andy Pearson said.

“If you want to be downtown, it’s for the right reasons, and those reasons are still here,” Pete Marinello said.

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Despite the optimism over this convention, there are lingering concerns about COVID-19. Several large conventions scheduled for this year have canceled or gone virtual because of concerns about new variants.

Esme Murphy