Business owners say they’re hopeful that three sports tournaments this weekend will start to turn the economy around following huge impacts from the coronavirus.
“It’s a little surreal, I guess I’ll say that it’s been basically a year since everything has been shut down,” said Stephanie Schoenrock, executive director for Visit Minot.
Dakota Rattlers wrestling, the state Class B girls basketball and the peewee state hockey tournaments are all happening this weekend in Minot.
And businesses have been busy preparing for the hopeful uptick in sales. Visit Minot says around 5,000 people are expected to make their way into the Magic City.
“I think this is huge…not just for hotels but for every business here in the city, I think it’s an opportunity to showcase what Minot can do on a statewide level,” said Gabriel Mejia, general manager of The Grand Hotel.
The executive director of Visit Minot says it’s too early to predict just how much money the events will bring in, but she says the organization partnered with a company that will track the city’s credit card spending on the weekends including and especially, this one.
“We’re really excited about this opportunity moving forward because we as a community are going to be able to value a lot of these events, these sporting events, and all of these events happening out at the state fair center and really put a dollar figure on how incredibly important they are to our business community,” Schoenrock.
Businesses are also making the effort to make sure their customers feel as safe as they can amid the pandemic, like giving the teams a designated space to congregate.
“We really try to roll out the red carpet. Make it a little bit special and give them a place where they can congregate amongst themselves. I think with COVID, people are still trying to be safe so I think if people isolate themselves at least within the team, they’re able to control it and manage it better,” said Mejia.
This weekend provides a glimmer of hope to local businesses about future events.
“Especially with this nice weather! It’s really good but it gives us kind of that feeling of things might go back to normal. A year ago, we were in a really weird situation and hopefully now things will be back to normal and we can all just kind of get back to that normalcy,” said Lexi Rosenthal, marketing director of Spicy Pie.
“We’re already seeing the trend going on an upward tick. I think people are tired of being cooped up at home. We’re seeing a lot of bookings to state fair already this early in advance,” said Mejia.
“They’re ready for that economic injection and we are, too,” Schoenrock said.
For the state Class B boys basketball tournament in 2019, Visit Minot expected $8 million to be spent on food, lodging and shopping from people attending the tournament.
In another effort to welcome out-of-town guests to this weekend’s tournaments, Visit Minot has created custom web pages for visitors.
Signs will be posted around the Minot State Dome to direct visitors to the appropriate website, depending on what tournament they’re in town for.
They’ll find deals for restaurants, shopping and things to do. The goal is to get teams and fans to support local businesses
“When people are coming here, they’re going to feel that custom welcome that says, ‘Hey, welcome Class B to Minot and here’s some great deals from the businesses in our community,” Schoenrock said.