ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s one of the most extreme winter competitions, and it’s back in St. Paul this weekend.
Red Bull’s Crashed Ice is now in full swing. Last year’s competition brought 100,000 people to downtown St. Paul, and organizers say that Saturday night’s event drew 120,000 – the most well-attended Crashed Ice ever held in the capitol.
And it has local merchants seeing green, like Eagle Street Grill. The popular watering hole at the bottom of the Crashed Ice course is expecting one of its biggest crowds of the year along 7th street, according to owner Kevin Geisen.
“Once they come inside they are like, ‘This is a big place, the food’s good,’ and they’re glad they stopped down,” Geisen said. “It creates a lot of exposure for all of us down here on 7th.”
Mayor Chris Coleman says the even has a major economic impact.
“It’s a huge event for our city,” Coleman said. “If you go into downtown St. Paul tonight, every corner of it is going to be filled up, and it’s just going to be fantastic.”
And Crashed Ice visitors from outside the city spend a lot of cold cash, according to Adam Johnson of Visit St. Paul, the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau.
The economic impact is estimated at between $12 million and $15 million.
“An event like this, to get them to come into St. Paul and hang out and experience it, they might go, ‘Oh, I might cross the river a little more often,'” Johnson said.
Hours before the competition began, customers were already lining up for food at Eagle Street Grill, including Myriam Trepanier, one of four women competing in Crashed Ice.
“I am going to skate today,” Trepanier said. “This is amazing, it’s crazy. I love every minute of it.”
In St. Paul, Crashed Ice is now among the city’s top tourist attractions with the biggest economic impact, just behind St. Patrick’s Day and Grand Old Day.