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Copyright 2014 Sun Journal
Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)
KATHRYN SKELTON, Staff Writer

LEWISTON -- At the Chick-A-Dee Restaurant, it's meant a larger order of lobsters to give out-of-towners a taste of Maine.

At Sports Trader on Main Street, it's meant the sale of a few more rolls of tape, laces and basics.

At the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center, it's meant being nearly full up from Wednesday to Saturday -- and strategically placing each of four rival teams in different wings.

The Maine Sports Commission has estimated the overall economic impact this weekend at $3 million as the city hosts the NCAA Division III hockey championships at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

Executive Director Kerry Hoey said that conservative estimate takes into account about $350,000 in direct spending from out-of- town visitors on hotels, meals, travel, parking and concessions, as well as the value of media attention and the benefits of future bids.

"The likelihood of us having these events, at the Colisee, Bowdoin or Lewiston-Auburn, have multiplied exponentially by hosting a national championship with the NCAA," Hoey said.

Here for the first time, the Colisee and Bowdoin College are co- hosting the event, which has been held the past several years in Lake Placid, N.Y.

In Friday's two semi-final matches, Wisconsin's St. Norbert College will face State University of New York-Geneseo at 4 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., New York's Oswego State will square off against University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

The winners of each match will play Saturday for the championship.

On Tuesday, ticket sales were brisk. A capacity crowd for a hockey game at the Colisee is 3,740 seats, plus standing room, said Jim Cain, owner of Firland Management, which owns and operates the arena.

"We still have several hundred (tickets) available for each game," Cain said, but he didn't expect them to last until Friday.

Richard Nelson, general manager of the Ramada, said the NCAA reached out months ago to ask the hotel to set aside 70 rooms, long before the teams were named. The remaining 45 rooms were grabbed by parents and fans in the past few days.

"Weekends have been sold out most of the winter," Nelson said. "Weeknights have been busy, so we're lucky enough we're busy, but this adds a little bit more spark to it. It's exciting to be part of it. It's a big event -- one of the biggest sporting events Lewiston's probably had."

The hotel will host an NCAA banquet Thursday night for all four teams. Hoey said it would include ice sculptures and local youth hockey teams welcoming the players and asking for autographs.

Hoey had visited Lake Placid to "check it out and see what they did right and see what we could improve on -- even little things," she said.

"Like we called all the restaurants in the area and we asked which ones would be willing to stay open and which ones would host at least 30 (people) for Friday or Saturday, especially for the winning team, so they can go out to eat and celebrate afterward," she said. "We put that list together and sent it to all the coaches yesterday so they know exactly where they can go in town and which people are ready and willing to have a reservation."

For players, parents and coaches, the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce has readied 500 gift bags to be handed out at hotels and the Colisee, with local maps, coupons and free offers, said JoAnne Campbell, co-chairwoman of the Regional Image Committee.

The Chick-A-Dee Restaurant has a coupon in the bag for 10 percent off and a free onion ring basket.

"I think it's a great idea; I think it's a great thing, too," said owner Bill Hird, who's added extra staff to work this weekend. "I'm actually going to pick up some extra boiled lobster and steamer clams. I'm sure they're going to want some of that."

Scott McKenney, general manager of Auburn's Hilton Garden Inn, said the hotel was booked up Friday and only a few rooms were available for Saturday.

"We anticipate our restaurant will be a bustling place, for sure," McKenney said.

Cain said he expected most hotels within a 25-mile radius to fill up this weekend.

"We think it's so good for the community and the greater Lewiston- Auburn area," he said. "In the games at Lake Placid, you'll have several hundred people at each game, where here, we'll have more than a couple thousand. This is going to be great, and the players will see that, too."

Another venue already has the championships for next year, but the following year, should the opportunity arise, "and the NCAA people liked what they see here, and I'm sure they will, then we will certainly want to bid on it again," Cain said.

kskelton@sunjournal.com

 

March 19, 2014

 

 
 

 

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