ASHWAUBENON - Thousands of people have come to Northeast Wisconsin to watch the WIAA state girls high school basketball tournament. And there's talk about attendance records at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon.
And already, organizers say they are pleased with turnout at the tournament – the first time in the event's 38-year history it is being held outside of Madison.
The line for championship tickets Friday was full of purple pride.
"Go Kewaunee, go Packers, go Algoma, can't forget Algoma. We'll be here for that game too," said Brenda Dembinski, a fan of Kewaunee High School.
The Kewaunee Storm faced the Lodi Blue Devils in a Division 3 matchup in the first game of the day. It was one of six games Friday and four games Thursday.
Tournament organizers say first day attendance at the Resch Center added up to more than 8,200. That compares to more than 5,200 for the first day of the tournament last year at the Kohl Center in Madison.
And tournament officials say they expected ticket sales will top 35,000 this weekend.
"And we are looking forward to the local teams and the larger communities coming in today," WIAA executive director Dave Anderson said.
It's a new venue for the tournament. After 37 years in Madison, memories seem to die hard.
"They were a little bummed that it wasn't in Madison, because they like the college atmosphere, but they were really excited yesterday when they came out and saw the floor, and the way it was set up," said Liz Momont, the junior varsity coach at Wausau's Newman Catholic High School.
So which venue is better? The answer may be purely geographic.
"The facility is nice, didn't do too bad of a job. Obviously I would have been (partial) for it to be in Madison, being from Lodi, it's a little closer," said Lodi fan Chris Paskey.
"Thumbs up. Absolutely. Much better than Madison. Everything's much more convenient, prices are more reasonable, no reason to go back down there, none," said Kewaunee fan Mark Raisleger.
Officials say they have gotten feedback, good and bad. But as of yet, no decisions have been made about the long-term future of the tournament at the Resch.
"We want to hear from our members, and coaches. We need to hear from our board of control. We need to hear from the Green Bay community, and PMI (the company that manages the Resch Center)," Anderson said.
All eyes will be on the Resch Center court on Saturday as five champions will be crowned, and new attendance record may be set as well.
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