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Businesses expect to cash in on extra state tournaments coming to the Mat-Su

Published: Feb. 20, 2021 at 8:57 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -Palmer and Homer High School skate for the Division 2 state hockey championship.

“When you run state tournaments, you get to see the athletes again,” said Billy Strickland, the executive director of the Alaska School Activities Association, or ASAA.

He’s among the limited number of fans allowed to watch the game at Wasilla’s Menard Sports Center.

Hockey is the first of three state tournaments that will take place over the next several weeks in the Mat-Su. Palmer is the site for next week’s cross-country ski championships at Government Peak, while Wasilla and Palmer will co-host the state basketball tournament, tentatively scheduled for the last week of March.

Wasilla is the home for the hockey tournament. ASAA moved the other two out of Anchorage because of COVID-19 restrictions. That will mean a loss of tourist-related money for the city.

“We know conservatively in a given year, ASAA activities bring in about over $7 million in economic impact to the community of Anchorage,” Strickland said.

Just like the hockey tournament, attendance will be limited at the other championships. “That’s less hotel rooms, less restaurants, those types of economic impacts,” Strickland said.

Still, businesses expect to cash in on the extra tournaments coming to town for the first time.

“We’re going to increase our business greatly. Believe me, we can really use it,” said Jeannie Hogan, a waitress at the Denali Restaurant. “We really appreciate it. Locally, all these local businesses will be very glad to get some extra business.”

An unexpected bonus due to the pandemic.

Wasilla’s Best Western at Lake Lucille declined to appear on camera, but employees told us they were sold out this weekend because of the hockey tournament. They also expect it to be just as busy for the basketball championship.

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