Area businesses affected differently

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Some area businesses say the big boost in business they expected during the World Junior Hockey Championship did not happen.

Bob Montgomery said he noticed little change at the Southgate Casino, Bar and Grill.

"We were disappointed," he said. "We booked bands for many evenings and expected thousands of people to come. We had a sprinkling of Canadians each day, but nothing of any significance."

Montgomery blamed low out-of-town ticket sales and the fact that Canada did not play on back-to-back days, allowing Canadian fans to drive to Grand Forks and back instead of spending the night.

However, hotels and motels reported being busy, especially during an ice storm. And some business owners such as Greg Stennes at Whitey's bar and restaurant said the tournament provided a boost.

"It's been busier than normal, and normal is very good this time of the year," he said.

"If a person were loaded for bear and staffing to the max all the time, you'd be disappointed," Stennes said. "But if you staffed for busier than normal, you did well."

Ron Mayer, manager at J.C. Penney in Columbia Mall, said it was difficult to tell what kind of impact the World Juniors had on the mall, but he said traffic was good and sales were up 5 percent in November and December compared to the previous year.

"Any time you can bring as many people in as this tournament has, it's got to be great for the city of Grand Forks," Mayer said.

The tournament started Christmas Day in Grand Forks and Thief River Falls, Minn., and wrapped up Tuesday night.