By James Feist, executive director of Explore Alexandria Tourism
The recent developments of the Runestone Community Center’s expansion becoming a reality is great news for the community and future of tourism!
Increased demand and growth from multiple user groups over the years has limited the opportunities for continued program growth due to limited available space at the community center. Tournaments have been unable to reach their full hosting potential and dry floor events haven’t been able to grow or add new events on the community center’s calendar.
When Alexandria hosts tournaments and events, visitors come and spend money in our community across multiple sectors including lodging, restaurants, convenience stores, retail shops and more. The RCC is crucial for this economic activity to occur, and has the ability to expand this impact after the expansion.
It’s no secret that tourism is a very important part of Alexandria’s economic impacts. What may not be as well known within these tourism impacts is the importance of Alexandria’s ability to host tournaments, especially in the winter. Using data gathered from the Alexandria Area Hockey Association’s tournaments we can make calculations of their estimated economic impacts on the community. Additionally, with the NorthStar Sports Complex opening in 2018, we can measure the immense growth that was able to actualize with the additional ice time available at NorthStar.
Furthermore, these tournaments could continue to grow with the RCC expansion, adding approximately 40-50 additional visiting teams to compete per season, for a possible future total of hosting 170-180 out of town teams. This calculates to go from an estimated economic impact of $1.4 million per season before the NorthStar Complex, to $3.3 million with the ability to use both the RCC and the NorthStar Complex, and a projected impact of $5 million per season with the addition of the RCC expansion.
Other user groups, sports and dry floor events will also have the much-needed space to grow. Dry floor events will have additional space to expand currently hosted events, and new events will have the opportunity to bring new experiences to our area. Demand for ice time has capped the number of events hosted by the Alexandria Figure Skating Club, and they hope to add two to three additional events per year after the expansion, which could include Minnesota State sanctioned competitions!
The curling club has been limited to one night of league curling per week due to current ice time demand. The expansion would allow more time for leagues, which could double their participants and possibly add a youth league. This growth means more Bonspiels, which can draw in visitors for multiple days of lodging, dining, shopping and more.
This facility expansion means expansion of economic impacts and quality of life. Explore Alexandria Tourism is excited and asks others to join us in supporting the expansion at the Runestone Community Center.