The Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that 20,000 visitors will travel to Champaign beginning today for the Illinois High School Association state championship wrestling tournament this weekend at the Assembly Hall. The money they inject into the Champaign-Urbana community and the consequent respending by local businesses and their employees is expected to have an estimated $5.1 million impact on the local economy.
That's more than when the IHSA state football championships come into town, according to Jayne DeLuce, the president and CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. That's because there are more spectators who come and stay overnight for the two-day tournament (as opposed to two days' worth of individual, one-and-done games, as is the case with the high school football championship weekend). Those spectators will pack hotels and eat at restaurants.
The formula to gauge how much the visitors will spend and how that money in turn will be respent is a bit complicated. The multipliers that the bureau uses are inexact, but $5.1 million is what DeLuce said is reasonable to expect.
Champaign City Council member Tom Bruno, who took a moment during last week's meeting to call attention to Jimmy John's economic impact, again used a portion of this week's meeting to make listeners aware of the tournament's effect.
"While it's sometimes inconvenient to have to put up with rowdy high school students from all over the state of Illinois ... it has a huge economic impact on our community," Bruno said.
And he called attention to a more abstract consequence. Years from now, he said, those high school students are going to be the "captains of industry," who will be looking for a place to locate their businesses or sell a product. So it would be wise to make them feel welcome, he added.
"Somewhere in the back of their minds, one of the highlights of their youth will be Champaign-Urbana," he said. "We have put ourselves on the map in that person's lifetime of memories."