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How Kalispell hopes hockey will help with the "off season"

Katrin Frye

Most businesses in the Flathead count on winter as the slow season for tourism and visitation. Business and economic development leaders are hoping hockey will help take the sting out of the slow season. Rob Brisendine with the Kalispell Convention and Visitors Bureau says they’re hosting the first annual Pond Hockey Classic on Foys Lake this weekend.

“It’s taking hockey back to its roots, it’s this craze that’s happening across the country right now, doing these hockey events in the natural environment, and there’s not a better place than in Montana and Foys Lake,” Brisendine said.

He said 51 teams are coming from all across the country, 40 of them from 1-hundred-miles away or more.

“Our occupancy levels are at below 40% for February. So, anytime we can help out our hotels, help out our restaurants, help out our business community, I mean, that’s really the core of targeting these events at specific times of year,” Brisendine said.

Brisendine said teams have up to 8 people on them. The city expects about 4-hundred-players coming into town, plus their families, and spectators.

Other off-season events sponsored by the city include the Dragon Boat Races in mid-September, and the Spartan Race in early May.

Brisendine said economic analysis came up with the last years Spartan race, the first annual, bringing in a little over 1-million-dollars to the local economy.

Last fall, the second year of Dragon Boat races brought in a little over 2-million-dollars.

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