Edmonton's Garth Brooks-athon has officially begun.
The country superstar spent much of Friday afternoon doing media interviews before playing the first of his nine shows in the city on Friday evening at Rogers Place.
Fans and local businesses are excited.
Derek Shaw has waited 20 years for Brooks to return to Edmonton. He missed the last show but said he was so excited for this one he took the day off work and drove in from Fairview late Thursday night.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," he said. "It's Garth Brooks. He's the best."
To mark the first concert of the series, Mayor Don Iveson declared Feb. 17 "Garth Brooks Day."
But Shaw said the proclamation doesn't go far enough. "It should be Garth Brooks week, by the amount of concerts he's doing," he said.
'Phenomenal for downtown'
Meanwhile, for businesses in the area, Brooks isn't just bringing nine sets of music, he's bringing people from across Western Canada into Edmonton's downtown core.
For Sean Palmer, general manager of the Delta Edmonton Centre Suites Hotel, the impact is already apparent.
"There's been a definite positive up-tick in reservations and bookings during the period that Garth Brooks is performing," he said. "A great many of them are coming from outside the city."
Palmer said reservations have come from across Western Canada, and many people have already called asking for early check-in times.
"There's definitely a huge amount of excitement around the city about this," he said. "I certainly appreciate what he's done for the city."
Events at Rogers Place — both hockey games and concerts by high-profile artists — have been a boon for the hotel, Palmer said.
"It's just phenomenal for downtown," he said.
With nine shows over the coming week, Brooks will no doubt reconnect with many longtime fans. But he's also making new one, too.
"I certainly appreciate what he [Brooks] has done for the city," Palmer said. "Garth Brooks is my new favourite artist."