Busy Sports Weekend Boosts Economy - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Busy Sports Weekend Boosts Economy

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BILLINGS, Mont. -  
The 29th annual Big Sky State Games and the East-West Shrine Game are front-page activities this weekend in the Billings area.

The state games expect 10,000 people this weekend -- 4,000 of those from outside of Yellowstone County -- while the all-star high school football game expects 4,500 spectators.

Billings Chamber of Commerce Communications Manager Kelly McCandless said state games participants spend more than one-million dollars in a few days.

"It's an incredible impact to our community," McCandless said. "From the hotels, to restaurants, to retail establishments -- they're all going to feel it.

And more people than usual are in town this mid-July, as the Shrine Game kicks off in Laurel for the second time. First-year general chairman Paul Lechner expects to sell out 4,500 seats for Saturday night's game.

"(Billings) is very supportive of it, and Laurel is totally behind the game -- its just been a great thing, and we'll be back here in 2017."

An additional 500 people attend the banquet, and the game's first ever silent auction takes place all day on Friday at the Shrine.

State games director Karen Sanford-Gall said people do more than play when in town for the games -- they eat, sleep and shop too.

"Business folks -- especially retailers -- plan their sales around state games weekend, so their anticipation is that a lot of state games folks will show up," she said.

Gates open at 5:30 p.m for the opening ceremony at Daylis Stadium on Friday night, while the Shrine game kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Laurel. Click here for tickets.

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