Bi-State wrestling brings boost to local businesses

Event brings 6,000 visitors, $1 million to area

During a time of year that tends to drag, the annual Bi-State wrestling classic is bringing in visitors to La Crosse’s downtown.

Wrestlers and their families travel from all over Wisconsin and Minnesota to enjoy the tournament. Over Thursday and Friday, the event is expected to bring in 700 wrestlers, 6,000 visitors and an extra million dollars to the city of La Crosse.

About sixty teams are participating in this year’s Bi-State classic, which allows wrestlers in different divisions to compete with each other. It’s an event that’s been held in La Crosse for 35 years

Tracy Albrecht traveled over two hours from Athens, Wisconsin, to watch her son, Jonathan, wrestle.

“There’s so many great competitors here,” Jonathan said.

Like other families, they’re hoping for a win. But no matter who wins in the ring, this two-day event is a big win for businesses in La Crosse’s downtown.

“The wrestlers and everything coming in for at least a night or two, spending the day shopping and going to restaurants in between sessions, so absolutely incredible piece of business here,” Jeremiah Burish, Explore La Crosse’s director of sports and events, said.

The Bi-State tournament comes at a time of year when business tends to slow down.

“We experience a lull until Valentine’s Day, except events in town, so this is definitely a big money weekend for us, and I’m sure it is for a lot of the area businesses downtown,” Stephanie Grogh, floor manager at Buzzard Billy’s, said.

Buzzard Billy’s is usually busy, but during Bi-State, it’s even busier.

“We usually actually don’t accept reservations, because so many people come in and tend to stay until the next match starts,” Grogh said. “So, we get very, very busy.”

Hotel rooms fill up as much as restaurant booths do.

“I’m at a hotel with my team,” Jonathan Albrecht said. “Oh yeah, mine is filled with wrestlers.”

“With Bi-State, there’s literally hundreds and hundreds of extra people in town, usually staying at one of five, six, seven hotels down here,” Grogh said. “So, we tend to get a lot of those people in.”

So while wrestlers are busy on the mat …

“We’ll be very, very busy the next couple days,” Grogh said.

The tournament continues Friday. Doors open to the public at 8:45 a.m.