The 34th annual State Farm Holiday Classic hosted 64 teams and 20,000 visitors in 2012. (Photo from Holiday Classic Facebook page)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - "The best basketball this side of March" makes Bloomington-Normal businesses very happy this side of Christmas.
The 2012 State Farm Holiday Classic is making its presence known once again to local business. The 34th annual basketball tournament brought 20,000 visitors to the Twin Cities.
"With all the folks in town over those four days, spending the nights in hotel rooms and eating in restaurants, that makes a big difference," said Matt Hawkins, Sports Marketing Manager for the Bloomington-Normal Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Classic will bring roughly $1.1 million of economic impact to Bloomington and Normal this year, and Hawkins said that couldn't happen at a better time.
"As far as the community standpoint, it's typically a slow time as far as tourism goes," said Hawkins. "Having this many people in town for a four-day event is huge for really all aspects of the community."
64 teams participate each year. Hawkins said many factors play into making the event successful.
"The quality of our facilities, the folks that actually put the tournament on," said Hawkins. "The committee does an excellent job every year of putting on a first class event."
The $1.1 million estimate is based off of the average daily spending in Illinois according to the Illinois Office of Tourism.
Zach Dietmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.