ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (NBC 26) -- Bringing in thousands of people around Green Bay who need places to eat and sleep, one event hopes for a million-dollar economic impact in the community.
"You think of 500 hotel room nights, you think of the fact that they're here for five days, they need to eat a couple meals," National Tournament Committee co-chair Stephanie Dutkowski said about nearly 800 families. "So you already know that there's an impact."
The USA hockey national tournament is back at the Cornerstone Community Center for its seventh year in Ashwaubenon. But this time around, there's a lot more at stake amid the pandemic.
"They’re gonna be everywhere," Dutkowski said. "And that’s awesome because they’re spending dollars in our community. This is also a major fundraiser for the youth hockey and the ice rink association here."
Included in the competition are 32 teams from 30 different states around the country. The local hockey committee bids to host the tournament, and brings in positive reviews from the attendees.
"You're going to send people into my restaurant, you're going to fill my hotel rooms," Dutkowski said about her conversations with local businesses. "Please, please send people."
And players like Max Ciepiela traveled all the way from New York, with dollars in hand.
"We're going to see all the restaurants, all the things downtown, all the cool statues and Lambeau Field," Ciepiela said. "A lot of the scenery is not like at home in New York. It's just definitely special to be here."
According to Dutkowski, the 18U tournament takes over 300 volunteers. She says local businesses jumped on the opportunity to be a part.
"We went out to the business community and said we need advertisements for our programs," she said. "The business community responded overwhelmingly. They said 'yes!' You’re gonna send people into my restaurant. You’re gonna fill my hotel rooms. Please, please send people. So it wasn’t a problem to get their support at all."
The event takes place from Thursday to Sunday, and will crown three national champions. Attendance is free for anyone who wants to watch hockey.
"In past tournaments, we’ve brought in $30,000 or $40,000 just in revenue from the tournament," Dutkowski said.
USA Hockey is the Olympic Government body of the USA Hockey Team. The competition also receives funding from the NHL.