SB will see $1.7M benefit from hosting hockey tournament

Published: Apr. 4, 2019 at 4:28 PM EDT
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The economic impact of Notre Dame’s football stadium on the local community is well known, but the increasing contribution of the campus hockey venue has hit an important milestone.

Thursday at the Compton Ice Arena, Portland beat Montana in the opener of the Chipotle-USA Hockey Tier II 14U National Championships while 38 other hockey teams waited in the wings.

“We’re all from Alaska,” Branson Starhein said. “We came for the national tournament. We won our state, and now we’re playing here.”

Even the designated home team’ are a long way from home, although all will now call South Bend home for the next five or so days.

“We're from Alaska. We have approximately 50 folks with us. We're here six days playing in a national tournament,” Coach Jamie Smith said.

Smith added that the team was renting 26 rooms at the Marriott and had breakfast at Perkins Restaurant.

Tournament teams will play 77 games between Thursday morning and Monday afternoon before crowning three divisional championship teams.

For the kids, playing in USA Hockey’s national tournament for players 14 and younger is a dream come true.

For some select adults, the dream come true lies in hosting the tourney.

“We've been pursuing this literally since day one,” said Robb DeCleene, executive director of Visit South Bend-Mishawaka. “The opening game at Compton [Family Ice Arena] back in October of 2011, we hosted representatives of USA Hockey at that game just to start this conversation to hopefully culminate in something exactly like what we've got this weekend.”

What they’ve got is a five-day event with a total economic impact of $1.7 million that’ll result in more than 3,100 hotel room rental nights.

“Were going to do it and we're going to do it real well, and this is a tournament that happens each year and they tend to move it around, and we want to make sure maybe the next time that we're considered again,” Compton Ice Arena General Manager Mike McNeill said.

While the economic benefits of hosting the tournament are substantial, the benefits for the community and for event volunteers with the Irish Youth Hockey League extend far beyond dollars and cents.

“Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when they walk in and seeing the pictures that are all being taken, I think just the memories that are being made right -- life is about memories and experiences, and this is something I think these kids are going to remember for the rest of their lives,” IYHL President Brian Troester said.

The tournament games are being played through Monday at the Compton Ice Arena on the Notre Dame campus, and at the Ice Box in South Bend.

Ten games per day will be played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, before the championship games start Monday morning.

The games are open to the public, and there is no change for admission.