Northern Exposure Hockey Tournament boosts local economy

By KBJR News 1

July 18, 2014 Updated Jul 18, 2014 at 9:28 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The ninth annual "Northern Exposure Hockey Tournament" is drawing thousands to the Northland this weekend, boosting the regional economy by close to a projected three-quarters of a million dollars.

Hotels like the Comfort Suites, The Inn on Lake Superior, and the Hampton Inn, among others, are completely booked because of the 9th annual Northern Exposure Hockey Tournament.

"Thousands of people come into town. A lot of them come in Thursday night, so they spend the night Thursday, Friday, Saturday night," said tournament director Kasey Yoder.

66 hockey teams have converged on Duluth from all over the U.S., for the tournament this weekend.

Participating kids range in age from eight to 18.

"We did make a family vacation out of it," said Lisa Ziebarth, a hockey mom.

With more than 1,300 players and their 2,600 plus family members, their expenditures are expected to equal an estimated $750,000.

"We do plan to tour Duluth. We plan to go down to Canal Park, maybe go see Enger Park, maybe do some hiking and walking, trying to find the innate characteristics that make Duluth special," said Ziebarth.

"Go see Glensheen or all sorts of things, the aquarium, the Depot, so we get people that like to do everything," said Yoder.

And while the big event helps the regional economy, some business owners from the Twin Cities made the trip to the Northland, to help support their businesses as well.

"I do all of the, ya know, use the recycled hockey sticks, recycled barn wood," said Steve Kvernmo, owner of Little Champ Frames.

For Kvernmo, large weekend events like this are vital in keeping his business afloat.

"A lot of the parents like to purchase the, like the benches and the nightstands and signs, ya know for pictures to put their kids in. It provides an income," he said.

A fun weekend for the whole family, made even better by supporting businesses throughout the Northland.

Hockey games started Friday and will continue through Sunday.