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Published February 17, 2012, 05:21 PM

Grand Forks to Host Class B Basketball Tournament

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - In a few weeks, Grand Forks will be hosting the North Dakota Class B high school basketball tournament for the first time ever.

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - In a few weeks, Grand Forks will be hosting the North Dakota Class B high school basketball tournament for the first time ever.

The city has been preparing for this tournament for months and on March 1, more than 7,500 fans will pour into the Alerus Center to watch the biggest event Grand Forks will host this year.

For a town that's rich in hockey tradition, Grand Forks is taking its first stab at a different sport for a weekend.

"This is our opportunity to distinguish ourselves a bit as a basketball community," said Grand Forks Activities Director, Todd Olson.

Even people who don't know players in the tournament, are coming to watch the top 8 high school teams in the state battle it out for the championship.

"We're expecting about 7,500 people in that weekend so that's going to be a huge impact. When it comes to youth athletics you're not just bringing in the participants and the coaches, you're bringing in the families as well," said Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director, Julie Rygg.

Although the lights are off right now, people will be surprised at the transformation the Alerus center makes into an arena.

Even though its not the ideal location like Bismark or Minot, the atmosphere the Grand Forks community brings to the table is one the Class B basketball tournament has never had before.

"People that have only been in the Alerus for football will see that we can make a pretty good bowl feeling for basketball too," said Olson.

"I would say the finest facility in the state when it comes to hosting an event like this so they're ready for it, their staff is ready for it, they've been preparing for it for a long time," said Rygg.

The conventions and visitors bureau has made tens of thousands of flyers and posters to let the people of Grand Forks know how important this event is.

"Class B basketball has long been the most popular tournament that we've had, the old saying everyone leaves town, the last one shuts off the lights and that's how basketball is viewed in rural North Dakota," said Olson.

Todd Olson, the person in charge of this tournament says, the Class B tournament is harder to get to more so than the Class A or other tournaments in the state.

For those interested in purchasing tickets you can go to www.aleruscenter.com or Ticketmaster online.

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