Visiting WIAA fans hit the town

Thousands of people from all across the state come to the Resch Center watch the girls basketball tournament
Thousands of people from all across the state come to the Resch Center watch the girls basketball tournament

ASHWAUBENON - The WIAA Girls State Basketball Championships wrapped up Saturday at the Resch Center, but not before showcasing the Green Bay area to fans.

Thousands of basketball fans came out to support their favorite high school teams. But not everyone stayed to watch all of the games.

Junior guard Stephany Heggemeier plays for Owen-Withee High School which is two hours west of Green Bay. In town for the WIAA tournament, she's making the most of her time on and off the court.

"Well, we lost so that means that we just pretty much got to chill and hang out at the hotel, go shopping. Shopping is definitely one of the main things. We like to go to the mall," said Heggemeier.

Visitors from different parts of the state say they enjoy how easy it is to get around town. And along the way the Greater Green Bay Visitors and Convention Bureau estimates they are pumping around $3-million into the local economy.

"You've got the bars and restaurants where you have a good meal. It's just easy to get in and get out. This venue's really nice. It's got everything you need right around here," said Kirk Hirst of Oconto Falls.

Lambeau Field is another popular attraction.

"You see it on TV all the time and you just watch them and you're just a really big fan so being there is kind of like the whole experience," said Alyssa Thalacker of De Forest.

But not everyone is interested in seeing what the city has to offer. Some say the WIAA tournament is all about being in the stands.

"It's more about watching the game. As a former varsity girls coach who used to go down to Madison when it was down there and now that it's in Green Bay and close by, I get a chance to watch the games," said Lance Bagstad of Clintonville.

Others are hoping to be out on the court one day.

"Next year maybe I can come and be part of the team and hopefully be able to play here one day like the girls," said Lexie Jenerjohn of Algoma.

Jenerjohn might be in luck because WIAA Girls Basketball Tournament will be held at the Resch Center for the next six years.

The associate director of the tournament says this year attendance was around 39,000 which is similar to last year.