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La Crosse Center welcomes fans for WIAA high school basketball

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:01 PM CST
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - A Coulee Region entertainment venue is welcoming spectators for a statewide basketball tournament.

The La Crosse Center is still finishing renovations that include its lobby, box office, conference rooms and arena.

However, Director Art Fahey says he is happy to welcome customers back in their doors this week.

“We’ve recently got the building back to us as far as the arena and the North Hall,” said Fahey. “We’re able to start using it as we go along and try to get everything taken care of, as far as we’re working with the pandemic.”

Bringing people back was key behind Fahey’s outreach to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) to host part their state girls’ basketball tournament.

“Everything they’re doing there and just making it a beautiful facility, the people working there have just got a great handle on what we need,” said WIAA Assistant Director Kate Peterson Abiad.

The tournament will be phased out over a three-day period starting Thursday.

“We’re only bringing four teams into La Crosse on a single day,” added Abiad.

With a maximum of 1000 fans per game, the La Crosse Center looks forward to welcoming patrons from throughout the state of Wisconsin to the arena with proper social distancing measures in place. Masks are also required on premises.

“We’ve got two separate entrances, we’ve got them exiting in two separate locations, we’ve got markings on the floor,” said Fahey. “All that will be there so folks can give as much distance as possible.”

“Typically a team would play a semifinal game on Thursday and not play again ‘til Friday or Saturday,” Abiad said. “It’s been recommended to us that we do not have overnight stays.”

However, the city looks forward to the extra business coming into town.

“It’s fantastic to be able to bring these people to La Crosse and have visitors here,” said Neal Zygarlicke, La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “It will be a boost for hotels, bars and restaurants as well.”

“We’re doing it with the girls this weekend, and the boys come in next weekend,” Fahey said.

The back-to-back weekends are a move Fahey says he’s excited about in bringing the La Crosse Center back to life.

Proper sanitation measures will take place between each round of the tournament, including continuous sanitation of locker rooms and public areas.

For more information on the WIAA Girls’ Basketball state tournament, click here.

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