Wisconsin bowlers hit the lanes today for the final frames of the state tournament, and local officials say the 17-week event bring in millions of dollars to the local economy.
More than 11,000 bowlers and their families have visited central Wisconsin in the past four months. Tournament officials say those bowlers pumped $4 million into the local economy.
"This year, skiing wasn't real good, so it still brought people, every weekend, to fill up hotels and go out to eat," WI State Bowling Association Manager Phil LaPorte said.
Officials say the tournament means big business, and after 17 weeks of competition, some are sad to see it go.
"Not only just the bowling centers that benefit, but the whole local economy," Dale's Weston Lanes owner Dale Elliott said.
Elliott says without the tournament, his business may have suffered.
"February, March, April probably would have been pretty bad for our bowling center without the tournament," Elliott said.
Local business owners love seeing bowlers hit the lanes as well.
"Since January, we've had pretty much capacity, guests every weekend," Plaza Hotel Manager Kelly Dalton said.
And some bowlers say central Wisconsin is the perfect spot for the tournament.
"It's always a little nicer when it's centrally located versus when it's out on the edges," bowler Jim Beilfuss said.
"Right in the middle of the state of Wisconsin. It's a three hour drive for anybody to get here for the state tournament," Elliott said.
Tournament leaders agree, the location couldn't be better.
"Kind of makes it a win-win situation for everybody," LaPorte said.
And the $400,000 prize pool isn't too bad either.
This was the 110th year of the tournament.
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