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Roller Derby Boosts Local Business

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EUGENE, Ore. — Thousands of people are expected to come out for the Emerald City Roller Girls Big O Tournament this weekend at the Lane Events Center.

It’s a sport you may not even think about, but roller derby is gaining popularity. And that demand means more dollars for Lane County.

The sweat and determination is the same, though the sport isn’t as well known as others. For the second time, skaters from around the world will hit the roller derby track in Eugene.

“Everyone is just so welcoming and friendly as well. There is a true global derby community, and it’s just great experience to be here,” said London Team skater Matthew Sutton.

“It seems like everywhere I go I hear somebody say ‘Oh yeah, I know. My best friend is skating,” said Amber Cooper, skater and Head Coach of the men’s Concussion team.

The London team will be the first team to compete from the U.K. They’re not the only ones from outside the U.S. Canada and Australia will also hit the track.

Lane County Travel says the sports popularity is bringing big dollars to the local economy.

“This event is pretty amazing. It will bring over three quarters of a million dollars. It will bring $787,000,” said Kari Westlund, Travel Lane County President and CEO.

She says they’re expecting around 2,500 people to come out and watch the competition. It compares to some of the bigger events for the county, like Rowing on Dexter Lake.

“We host some serious regattas here because we’ve got one of the best rowing lakes between Seattle and Sacramento,” Westlund said.

Roller derby skaters say they think a lot of people come out to watch the competition because the sport doesn’t discriminate.

“I think it’s a great competitive sport, which is very welcoming of all shapes, sizes genders–everything. You have speed. You have strategy. You have the big hits. You just have all of this stuff, which I think for someone that isn’t fully aware of the rules, they can still actually enjoy just the spectacle of roller derby,” Sutton said.

“It’s kind of a counter-cultural punk rock type deal,” said skater James Brains.

The derby tournament runs through the weekend. They’re calling Saturday night date night. You can watch the three local teams compete. Admission will $15 that night.

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