NHL Winter Classic said to have $1M impact on Windsor

Windsor businesses say they're reaping the benefits of the NHL's Winter Classic.

Hotels, bars report more business from fans as far away as California

A group of friends, from California, New Jersey and Windsor got together for breakfast in downtown Windsor on Tuesday in advance of the NHL's Winter Classic. (Lisa Xing/CBC Windsor)

Windsor business owners say they're reaping the benefits of the NHL's Winter Classic.

Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island says hotel occupancy is at 99 per cent on New Years Eve and at 45 per cent for New Years Day. In 2012, the rates were 75 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

The downtown Holiday Inn is essentially sold out. A spokesperson says New Year's Eve and the Winter Classic are the reasons.

"We’re seeing an influx of people from all over," said Brian Yeomans, director of sales at the Holiday Inn. "It’s definitely a worthwhile idea to shuttle over and take advantage of great Canadian rates. It means a few extra days of occupancy."

Lynnette Bain, vice president of tourism programs and development for the tourism board, said Winter Classic fans are spending money in Windsor.

"Based on an average of two people per room, spending $200 each per day, including accommodations and transportation, we are looking at an incremental growth in spending of over $300,000," Bain said in an email to CBC Windsor. "This is just incremental. If we consider the entire occupancies in the hotels conservatively, we are looking at over $1 million in spending by visitors for the Winter Classic."

The New Year's Day game features the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., approximately 45 minutes from Windsor.

A record crowd of more than 107,000 fans are expected to attend.

Greg Eanser grew up in Windsor but has called California home for 23 years. He's in Windsor for the alumni games in Detroit and the Winter Classic.

"We love hockey. It’s in our Canadian blood," he said of his friends and family who will join him in. "We love Windsor. There’s lots of things to do here."

Jamie Greer, general manager of the Manchester Pub, on Ouellette Avenue downtown, told CBC News he's seen an influx of fans from Toronto and Hamilton.

"There’s definitely been a surge and not just the usual holiday crowd.  We started seeing a surge two days before the event," Greer said. "Windsor’s going to be a hot spot the next few days. If gives the entire area a chance to showcase itself."

Ken Tress, who grew up in Toronto but lives in New Jersey, will split his stay between Windsor and Michigan.

"It's something different and unique. It’s really a lifetime opportunity," he said of the game after breakfast in Windsor on Tuesday. "I’m sad to say, we’re going to spend a lot of money in Michigan over the next couple of days."

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