High school sports tournaments crucial to La Crosse businesses

While the beauty of the La Crosse area attracts many tourists, the area also depends on yearly tournaments and events to maintain a strong economy.

During the slow tourist winter months, tournaments like the state ski and snowboard competition getting ready to kick off at Mount La Crosse are extra important to the local economy.

La Crosse hosts many events during the year, not all of them are sports tournaments.

While all the events are important, some say the high school sports state competitions are even more valuable to the local economy.

On Saturday, Mount La Crosse will be swarming with 400 competitors, but that’s just a fraction of the total visitors that will fill the La Crosse area this weekend.

“That’s just the athletes and then with the athletes come the families and the spectators,” said Mount La Crosse General Manager Darcie Breidel.


The Wisconsin high school state Alpine Ski and Snowboard competition is a staple for the La Crosse economy in the winter.

“Obviously, hotel demand is always higher in the summer so to get an event like this in winter time is excellent,” said the director of La Crosse Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Dave Clements.

La Crosse also hosts the WIAA high school state track meet every year and while other events are important to the local economy, the consistency of the high school tournaments makes them even more valuable.

“Mount La Crosse has been hosting this event for over 20 years,” said Breidel.

“When you’re hosting the boys state basketball, the girls state basketball, the state track and field championships, the wrestling, whatever it is, they’re coming every year and it’s revenue the businesses can count on every year, year in and year out,” said Clements.

While it might seem like hotels stand to benefit the most, Clements says think again.

“About 80 cents out of every dollar that a visitor spends is spent on something other than lodging. So the ripple effect of someone coming to visit for whatever reason goes greatly past just lodging,” said Clements.

Clements says he spoke with a restaurant owner in La Crosse the other day who says day-to-day business is great but he relies on the annual events in La Crosse to help his business make it.

The high school state ski and snowboard competition starts tomorrow.