Local businesses in La Crosse prepare for an economic boost during state track meet

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The state track meet is not only a big weekend for runners, but it’s also a big business for the hospitality industry. Local businesses in La Crosse say the state track meet will help bring in revenue many of them missed out in during COVID-19.

Returning from the pandemic is no easy feat.

“I don’t know what to expect, it’s going to be kind of new for me too this year,” said Tim Hesse, the owner of the Eagle’s Nest restaurant.

Many businesses have struggled to make up the revenue lost.

“We’ve all been through a tough time these last two years,” said Samuel Fregoso, the general manager at Fairfield Inn and Suites in La Crosse.

With the state track meet right around the corner, things are looking up for many La Crosse businesses.

“Anytime you bring in a large group of people into an area, it helps all the businesses,” Hesse said.

At the height of the pandemic, Fairfield Inn and Suites was forced to shut down two floors of its building. Now, the inn has booked all 92 rooms.

“So tomorrow night we’re looking at a 100% capacity, as well as tonight,” said Fregoso.

Fregoso says the Inn has been preparing for this weekend for months.

“Just ensuring we’re well-staffed, especially this week, so that all the rooms are available,” he said.

Fregoso is not the only one.

“We basically tell everyone we hire, ‘you will be working state track,” said Hesse.

Hesse says he cuts down his menu during the state track meet so his staff can prepare for the crowd.

“Make sure we have just our popular items on there because it’s going to be a lot busier,” he said.

Hesse says the meet is the final part of the restaurant’s busy season.

“You know it’s kind of a great, end of the season blow out for us,” Hesse said.

Fregoso says events like the meet will help both businesses and staff

“You know just being able to bring in more revenue for the hotel which eventually trickles down to the hotel staff,” he said.

He is hopeful more events like the meet will come to La Crosse.

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