WIAA girls state basketball tournament preps

ASHWAUBENON – Titletown is rolling out the red carpet for the 2014 WIAA girls state basketball tournament. It tips off Thursday at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon. It’s the second year in a row that the venue will host the event.

The Green Bay area made a slam dunk the first time hosting the WIAA girls state basketball championships. It brought in around 40,000 people.

“The event was so well received by the community last year, and the girls really liked it,” Ken Wachter, President and CEO of PMI Entertainment Group.

Year two is expected to steal the show once again.

Workers prepped the court at the Resch Center Wednesday morning, putting logos on the hardwood.

Unlike the past, fans can now buy tickets in advance. And organizers say there’s more.

“Some youth girls basketball teams are going to be ambassadors on Saturday where the championship teams can go out on the floor with them,” said Wachter.

Distributing t-shirts, posters, and more throughout the area, tourism officials are ready to welcome players and fans.

“We want to continue to build our brand as a community and the brand of the WIAA tournament here in our community,” said Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau President Brad Toll.

Area hotels are also getting ready to check in teams, families, and fans.

“We’re taking that one step further and decorating the lobby, bringing their school colors in,” said Jen Naze with Ramada Plaza.

Some high tech hotel key cards are new this year. The front welcomes teams and fans. On the back there is a QR code. You can scan it with your smart phone and download an app designed to enhance the overall tournament experience.

“That will give them information on restaurants, hotels, they can get directions from one place to another on the app,” said Toll.

Northeast Wisconsin snatched the tournament away from Madison scoring a contract through 2020.

“Lot of jitters last year with could we make that happen, so for us coming in as the WIAA, now it’s about enhancing that experience,” said WIAA Associate Director Deb Hauser.

Hauser says the little touches make a big impact.

“A lot of people came up to me last year as they were leaving saying, ‘We’re coming back this was awesome. We can park, we can walk to the venue, we went shopping, out to eat, it was very fan friendly,’” said Hauser.

Tourism officials say the event brought in $3 million last year.

Teams are expected to begin arriving Wednesday evening for the tournament which runs Thursday through Saturday.

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