Local economy feels impact of WIAA State Track and Field absence

Event has been held in La Crosse since 1990

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – For the first time since 1989, the WIAA State Track and Field Championships are not being held in La Crosse.

Friday was set to be the first of two days of the meet, which brings tens of thousands of people to Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex.

It is estimated that the event brings at least $2.5 million to the local economy.

And that impact echos throughout the year from those normally filling the stands.

“They talk and we hear the participants, we hear their families say ‘I had know idea this was over here, I had no idea how beautiful it was here, we’ve got to come back,'” said Explore La Crosse Visitors Bureau executive director A.J. Frels.

When they weren’t in the stands, those fans would be throughout our area, staying at hotels and eating at restaurants.

Gary Rudy at Rudy’s Drive-in says the weekend would usually double the restaurant’s business.

“We’ve got quite a following of the schools that come here after their done. And they sit on the picnic tables and just have a good time. So they’re certainly going to be missed,” said Rudy’s Drive-In owner Gary Rudy.

About 3,000 athletes normally take part in the event.