ASHWAUBENON (NBC 26) — After nearly two years, the WIAA girls state basketball tournament will return to Ashwaubenon this week.
The basketball court at the Resch Center will be filled with players, fans and applause once the tournament begins Thursday afternoon.
“All of us at the WIAA are really excited to be back in our home venues and back in the communities that have welcomed us for our tournaments," said WIAA assistant director Kate Peterson Abiad.
The WIAA canceled the girls state basketball tournament in 2020 after one day of the three-day competition due to growing concerns about the coronavirus. Last year, the tournament went on with mask requirements, limited capacity, and two venues.
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Final preparations are underway for the 2022 WIAA girls state basketball tournament. Crews are mopping the floors and cleaning locker rooms before teams and fans arrive Thursday.
Neither the Resch Center nor WIAA has COVID-19 protocols for fans or schools to follow.
"We are crazy excited to have it back," said Terry Charles, senior manager of corporate communications for PMI Entertainment Group and the Resch Center. "It really is business as usual - sports viewing as usual for us. So again, that just helps us have a feeling of normalcy."
The tournament is expected to draw 30,000 to 40,000 people into the community. Brad Toll, Discover Green Bay president & CEO, said the weekend generates an average of $2.2 million for the local economy.
"Typically people think hotels and restaurants, which those are the most obvious to benefit," Toll said. "Gas stations, with fuel prices going up, are certainly going to sell an additional bump with the people coming in. We also see retail see a tremendous boost, especially prom dress sales. We've heard that is very successful."
Toll said when more local teams participate, they see higher ticket sales. He said when teams travel from farther distances, hotel occupancy increases.
Twenty teams are set to compete in the girls state basketball tournament.
"For many of them, [it's] the biggest event that they will ever have in their basketball career. And that's special. And everybody that's here makes that special," Peterson Abiad said.
Waupun will take on Dominican for the first semifinal game at 1:35 p.m. Thursday.