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Published February 20, 2014, 06:11 PM

54th annual State Hockey Tournament starts Thursday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena

Thursday marks the start of the 54th annual state hockey tournament in Grand Forks. The tournament has been in Grand Forks almost every year since its start. And it brings in a mid-winter boost for the city's economy.

By: Cynthia Johnson, WDAZ

Thursday marks the start of the 54th annual state hockey tournament in Grand Forks. The tournament has been in Grand Forks almost every year since its start. And it brings in a mid-winter boost for the city's economy.

This is the time of year when Grand Forks gives Warroad Minnesota a run for its money when it comes to being 'hockey Town USA.' The tournament brings in a lot of money for the city. Let's take a look at some of the numbers for a typical youth tournament:

For every athlete participating, two more people follow them to town.

85 percent say they eat at one or more restaurants.

50 percent say they shop at one or more retail stores.

This all according to a 2012 study by the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.

It's been a busy tournament so far, with games starting at 11 Thursday morning. 16 teams are in town competing for this year's title.

Fans say they enjoy being part of the tradition of coming to the Ralph Engelstad Arena for the tournament.

Fargo South Senior Cass Meyers said, "It's an awesome venue and it's always done well hosting the state tournament so it's just an awesome atmosphere see all the hockey teams play the best in the state so it should be a good tournament."

The tournament will not be held in Grand Forks next year.

For the first time since 1971 the tournament will be in Fargo.

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