Hoops tournament brings Golden economic impact

Posted: Saturday, March 21, 2009

Every spring Gold Medal brings a boost to a Juneau economy that would otherwise by hibernating through a customary slow stretch for local businesses. Hotels, restaurants, transportation companies and other retail businesses enjoy the sudden arrival of hundreds of players, coaches, friends and family members who come to town especially for the tournament. As the masses arrive, so do their pocketbooks.

In the valley, Super 8 Hotel general manager Cleveland Mitchell firmly believes that the tournament helps not only his business, but also numerous others in the community.

"Our experience here is that business really picks up the week of Gold Medal with the people coming over to watch the games, do shopping, and take care of other business at the same time." Mitchell said.

Car rental and taxi cab companies are also in high demand during the games, helping shuttle the visitors to various shopping centers and other places of interest beyond the gym doors. At the same time, Capital Cab owner Shane Williams said his drivers really see a boost when the tournament rolls into the various championship games.

"Business increases towards the end of the week, kind of like an uphill climb, because when it comes to the finals, you get a lot of people who want to see that game," Williams said. "It doesn't matter what character, culture, or group folks are from, the championship games are one of those attractions that crosses party lines."

Good competition also has a way of turning into hunger when the games run deep into the night. Some restaurants, like Bullwinkle's Pizza Parlors, enjoy a significant rush - especially of late customers. Bullwinkle's corporate manager Dave Smith looks forward to the profitable late working nights the tournament brings each year.

"The thing is that a lot of the hotels in the valley are more economical, so many of the teams stay out there and we seem to always get a late delivery rush," Smith said. "Not so much from the players, but the parents and everybody else involved. A lot of times what they will do is they will get out of the games at 10 p.m., run back to the hotels and then call us. So it is a good thing."

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