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Bill Rubin: Economic impact of friday night lights ... priceless

Bill Rubin

By Bill Rubin, St. Croix Economic Development Corporation Executive Director

Has the economic impact of high school football games across the U.S. ever been measured? Win or lose on Fridays, my unscientific reasoning includes ticket sales, concessions, benefit raffles, pre-game meals, convenience store stops, new sports apparel, and post-game wrap-up sessions, commonly referred to as parties.

Parents uphold a longstanding tradition by hosting weekly dinners for players and coaches, with a major emphasis on the intake of carbohydrates. Intel from an unnamed booster website suggests the following, all donated, for a single pre-game meal: spaghetti, meatballs and bread sticks are prepared at a restaurant and delivered to the high school cafeteria, parents supply 20 dozen desserts plus 20 gallons of chocolate milk for the players and two gallons of white milk, presumably for the coaches. Wisconsin is known as the Dairy State, but 22 gallons times 10 dinners means a small pool could be filled. No word on the cooked weight of the noodles, gallons of sauce, pounds of meatballs, or number of breadsticks from the very generous restaurant.

Proud parents travel great distances to support the players and team. For them, a perfect trifecta sign may read, Gas-Food-Lodging. Saloons featuring burgers, fries, cheese curds, and adult beverages are great destinations and each community has one or more option.

Marching bands, dancelines, cheer squads, and young spectators need to eat, too. They'll likely stop anywhere that has a drive-through window.

Teams from several St. Croix County school districts have claimed state championships within recent memory, including Somerset, Glenwood City, and St. Croix Central. Nothing brings a small town together like a successful sports team. Win a conference championship or a couple of play-off games and the excitement around town is contagious.

As for the economic impact . . . it's priceless. Let's support the home team at a game this season and spend a couple of dollars in doing it. Go Baldwin-Woodville Blackhawks, Glenwood City Hilltoppers, Hudson Raiders, New Richmond Tigers, River Falls Wildcats, St. Croix Central Panthers, and Somerset Spartans!

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