Vehicles fly off the lot as families flock to Whitehorse for hockey

Sport Yukon estimates $3.3 million flows into Whitehorse and Yukon during the three-day tournament, which runs from March 16 to 18.

Sport Yukon estimates $3.3M flows into territory for Yukon Native Hockey Tournament

Whitehorse Motors' Jens Nielsen says the dealership is on track to sell at least 15 cars this weekend to customers from communities like Inuvik, Mayo, Pelly Crossing and Haines Junction. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

The Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, the territory's biggest annual sporting event, is a big win for local business.

Sport Yukon estimates $3.3 million flows into Whitehorse and Yukon during the three-day tournament, which runs from March 16 to 18 in Whitehorse. There are 43 teams from Yukon, Northwest Territories and British Columbia in both the adult and youth divisions.

It's not just hotels and restaurants that are hopping, although they're doing brisk business too.

The tournament is also a chance for families in rural communities to stock up at big box stores and even purchase a new car.

"We're probably on track to do 10 vehicles today which is way above our average," said Whitehorse Motors sales manager Jens Nielsen on Friday afternoon.

On Saturday afternoon, Nielsen said another five deals were possible.

"So the hockey tournament is great for business. And it's not just us," he said.

"Go over to Tim Hortons or Walmart and see if you can get in."

He said the customers mostly hail from communities such as Inuvik, Mayo, Pelly Crossing and Haines Junction.  

"I can tell you that tonight I'm going to be moving tons of stuff from people's old vehicle into their new vehicle as they went to Canadian Tire, Superstore, the new [Save-On-Foods] or Walmart and loaded up," said Nielsen.

He added his company has a second sales lot set up this weekend to handle the extra business they're expecting.

He also brought in more sales and financing staff to meet demand.

No Vacancy

And good luck finding a hotel room in Whitehorse for the tournament.

David Branigan, with Northern Vision Development, says the Yukon Native Hockey Tournament takes Whitehorse hotels to capacity. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

One front desk supervisor told CBC News when people check out this weekend, they will book their rooms for next year's event.

"Once they know their dates, they are booking those hotel rooms as soon as they can," said David Branigan, who is with Northern Vision Development, which operates three hotels in Whitehorse.

"They know they take us to saturation across the hotel market in Whitehorse."