Calgarians rally the troops for the first battle of Alberta in 31 years

After 31 years, Alberta's two NHL teams will meet again in the playoffs and fans, politicians and businesses are all lining up for a piece of the excitement.

Edmonton and Calgary mayors place a friendly bet involving jerseys and donations

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek poses in front of the big C. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

After 31 years, Alberta's two NHL teams will meet again in the playoffs and fans, politicians and businesses are all lining up for a piece of the excitement.

It's been so long since the last battle of Alberta — where the Calgary Flames faced the Edmonton Oilers — most of the Flames' roster wasn't even alive. 

The readiness of each team to face off against their provincial rival has added an extra layer of intensity to this next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, beginning on Wednesday.

Flames fan Mark Gibson says the series will give the city the boost it needs.

"After all that we've gone through ... the city needs something to lift us up and that's exactly what they're doing," he said, sporting his Flames jersey along 17th Avenue Monday.

"Zero to a hundred, I'm 110."

Flames fan Mark Gibson says he's at 110 out of 100 in his excitement for Battle of Alberta. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Others see the series as an opportunity for an economic boost — especially for the bars and restaurants lined along the city's "red mile" on 17th Avenue S.W.

"It's been definitely very busy at night," said Karla Medkova, general manager at Porch. 

"People come here to watch the game. Sometimes they come here before the game before dinner and then they go to Saddledome but it's been very, very great for people to come here and we're hoping this second series is going to be even better than that."

Karla Medkova says the restaurant she manages on Calgary's 17th Avenue S.W. has had lineups every night of the playoffs so far. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Medkova says sales have probably doubled, maybe even tripled since the start of the first round against the Dallas Stars.

Every game night, the restaurant saw lineups, unable to get every customer in, which has been an exciting change of pace for the eatery in its first year of operation.

"Here on 17th Avenue, I can't wait to see the atmosphere," she said.

Mayors make a bet

As is often the tradition between two adversary sports teams, the mayors of both cities have made wagers on the winning team.

The losing team's city council will have to wear the jersey of the winning city's team at the first council meeting following the end of the series. The losing mayor will have to paint their face the colours of the winning team.

The losing city council will also donate to the Kids with Cancer Society of the opposing city in recognition of Ben Stelter's fight with brain cancer, according to Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

"[Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi] is a wonderful man, and I think he would look very good in red and black. So I'm very much looking forward to that moment," Gondek said.

The mayors and councillors are still working out how the financial donation will work and the total amount, but it will likely be something that all of one council or the other will contribute to, Gondek said.

The rivalry has also spread to athletes from other sports. Calgary native and Team Canada player Sam Adekugbe challenged Edmonton fan and soccer star Alphonso Davies to a bet on Twitter.

The rivalry is beginning on a friendly note, but as the series gets going Wednesday, many say the friendliness may change.

"I don't really hate Edmonton that much yet, but I know after game one, I'll hate them," Flames fan Nishant Mehrotra laughed.


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