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State track meet providing major boost to La Crosse’s economy

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 4:45 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - The WIAA State Track and Field Championships aren’t just special for the athletes competing, but they’re crucial for the Coulee Region.

The event returns to La Crosse this year after being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, which cost the community millions of dollars.

“We estimate that this event is very conservatively anywhere from an $1.8-$2.2 million economic impact,” Explore La Crosse Sports & Events Director Jeremiah Burish detailed. “Not having 20-25,000 people here over the course of two days obviously tremendously hurt the community.”

Now that the meet is back in full swing, thousands of people are expected to be in La Crosse between now and Saturday, providing a much-needed boost to the local economy.

“Businesses love it, they’re appreciative and very thankful that it’s happening again this year,” La Crosse Chamber of Commerce CEO Neal Zygarlicke said. “It’s a good thing to get people back into our community to show off what La Crosse is all about.”

This year’s meet looks a little different, spread out over three days instead of the usual two.

Spectators are also capped at 5,500 each day, but Burish believes the economic impact of the event will rival years past despite the limit.

“Even if all those [people] are just straight day-trippers and not one of them spend the night, the Department of Tourism still puts a value of $71 per day for day-trippers,” Burish explained.

Burish adds state track marks the first major event of the summer, and he expects tourism to continue on an upward trajectory.

“We’re bouncing back really quickly, much faster than anticipated with travel and events and different things like that,” Burish said.

Zygarlicke says the meet not only gives the economy a push right now, it has the potential to build La Crosse into the future.

“For a lot of these families, it might be their first time here in La Crosse, having a good experience here while they’re in town might bring visitors back and families back,” Zygarlicke expressed. “It also might have students coming here for school, and it might be their first experience in wanting to work here.”

State track is not only expected to boost tourism in La Crosse, but throughout the entire Coulee Region.

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