Major hockey event predicted to draw in over $80 million to province
The World Junior Hockey Championship is expected to bring all things hockey to the province when they kick off. What isn't generally expected, however, is all the money coming with it.
The popular even is predicted to bring a boost of over $80 million to Alberta, said Tourism Calgary vice-president Marco De Iaco.
"This event will bring tremendous economic activity to its host cities – dollars spent in hotels, in restaurants, in shopping centres and in taxicabs," De Iaco said.
"Sport tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry," he added. "A total of $3.4 billion is spent by domestic travelers alone on an annual basis in Canada for sport tourism.
De Iaco, who served on the committee that put in the successful bid for the games to be held in Alberta, said that trying to host events such as the juniors is becoming much more competitive, as cities are beginning to realize the benefits.
"Cities and municipalities across the country are really starting to use sporting events as opportunities to draw economic activity, to improve their quality of life and to promote their destination on a national or international stage."
Not only will fans be watching from around the world on their televisions, many visitors will be traveling to Calgary to watch the games live. "We're estimating that about 10,000 hotel rooms will be occupied during the Christmas holidays," De Iaco said.
Todd Brandt, CEO of Tourism Saskatoon, said that the 2010 junior championship was successful for his hometown two years ago, and he has no doubt the same success will be seen in Calgary and Edmonton.
He said the event generated over $86 million in provincial economic activity and attracted over 27,000 visitors to Regina and Saskatoon. "The 2010 junior championship became one of the biggest events ever hosted in our province, from an economic perspective," he said.
Not only does an event of this magnitude bring in money, it also gives any province hosting it recognition and respect. "When you have hosted one of these events, you can use this to build equity in your city brand as a community with both the human and financial capacity to successfully execute major events," Brandt said.
At Jersey City locations in Calgary, staff members are preparing for a lot of customers looking to buy the official Team Canada jerseys. The Hockey Canada website says the jerseys will represent the blood, sweat and tears poured out annually by Team Canada as it sets the gold standard around the world.
Jersey City CEO Wayne Renick said he's expecting to see a big boost in sales. "Our sales will probably go up over five or 10 times what they were last year because of the games in Calgary," Renick said.
De Iaco said that there are other positive effects from hosting the junior championship. "It has outstanding media coverage and it offers an incredible community legacy — not only in the host cities and province, but across the country as well," he said.
The World Junior Championship league will play exhibition games leading up the tournament in communities across the province, including Brooks, Camrose, Lethbridge, Okotoks, Red Deer and Three Hills.
The junior championship includes 10 nations competing in 31 games, beginning on Dec. 26 in Calgary at the Scotiabank Saddledome and in Edmonton at Rexall Place.
- By LISA TAYLOR