ESTERO, Fla. -- One of Germain Arena's largest and longest events, the North American Roller Hockey Championships, is back in town.
The tournament has proven to be a big boost for the facility -- and for the local economy.
"It keeps all three of our rinks jumping, and it keeps people in the building," says Dave Kessel, Recreational facilities director for Germain Arena.
Kessel says the championships, also calls NARCh, comes to Estero every 3 to 4 years.
He says it is the largest ice and inline hockey tournament in the World and brings a crowd to prove it.
"They have teams from as far as Africa, Columbia. The last time they had a women's team from Japan," Kessel says.
And those athletes don't just descend on the arena, he says. That's because for about two weeks, thousands of players and their families are in Southwest Florida, spending money in the area.
The economic impact of the event is between $8 million and $12 million, according to Kessel, and it doesn't just stay in Estero.
"They go to all the restaurants, all the hotels in the immediate area. We have people staying all the way from Marco Island to Port Charlotte," he says.
In 2007, the arena hosted around 400 teams. That number is down to around 350 this year, but Kessel says the effect won't be lost on anyone.
"Tourists are gone, and there's not much going on," Kessel says. "To bring the amount of people it's bringing this time of year is just unbelievable for the local economy."
The championships run until the end of the month. Admission to the games and parking are free.