HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Get ready for the rumble. The 37th Honda Gold Wing Convention, aptly dubbed 'Wing Ding' will make their Rocket City Road Trip September 3rd through 6th. This week we spoke to local visitor bureau leaders about the impact we can expect as tens of thousands of biking enthusiasts take over the Von Braun Center and downtown Huntsville.
Since their visit in 1998, the Huntsville Convention and Visitors Bureau has been working hard to recruit the Honda Gold Wing Convention back to the Rocket City; they say we're ready. Wing Ding 37 will increase our city's population by an estimated 10,000 or more. With that many people exploring all our fine city has to offer, you can just imagine the economic impact only a few days will have.
"We're trying to think ahead and we have our whole team working on it," Vice President of Conventions Bob Rogers. "We've called gas stations, we've called grocery stores; it's not going to be that typical week that's pretty slow. And we're trying to think ahead and make sure we're ready for them. That the restaurants know they're going to come because they have a lot of disposable income and they're going to eat and enjoy our activities and see our attractions and they're going to come and enjoy Huntsville."
Hotels are already booked to the max and every retailer imaginable might need to rethink any impending vacation requests, Rogers suggests.
"We're trying to make sure that everybody doesn't send everybody away; staff up for it and get ready for it."
The welcome party alone will be quite a sight, but as local leaders prepare for absolute saturation at gas stations, hotels, downtown eateries and every retail venue imaginable the week of Wing Ding, they also have to think about sheer logistics.
"There'll be some street closures going on that week, too," explains Convention Sales Manager Don Dukemineer. Monroe street, kinda similar to the way Panoply is set up, from Monroe Street there at Clinton all the way around to Williams and Church will be closed starting Wednesday at 9a.m. all the way to Sunday at 6p.m."
And also, 10,000 bikers on Huntsville streets at once -- that's certainly nothing to sneeze at. Safety is already a top priority.
"We've coordinated a lot with Huntsville Police, with Huntsville Fire and Rescue, HEMSI, to make sure that they adjust their routes but also that they can be aware of what's going on with the activities; whether they need to be present or if a call comes out that their assistance is needed, they know where to be and where to go to."
This one group of conventioners and Gold Wing enthusiasts are expected to chip in an estimated economic impact of $4 to $5 million during the week of Wing Ding.