Calgary

Grey Cup boosts Calgary's economy, officials say

As the Grey Cup festivities heat up across the city in the lead up to Sunday's big game, Calgary business and tourism officials are seeing some of the economic impact associated with hosting one of the country's major sporting events.

Tourism Calgary estimates game will give Calgary a $50M economic boost

Tuffy the horse arrives inside the famous King Eddy bar in downtown Calgary Thursday. The annual tradition kicks off Grey Cup festivities as the Hamilton Tiger Cats play against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this Sunday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

As the Grey Cup festivities heat up across the city in the lead up to Sunday's big game, Calgary business and tourism officials are seeing some of the economic impact associated with hosting one of the country's major sporting events.

Tourism Calgary estimates the Grey Cup festival and game will translate into a roughly $50-million economic impact for the city as visitors and locals hit more than 40 events.

As well, the Calgary Hotel Association says bookings among its members this week are above average, and that two hotels have already sold out.

Moshe Lander, an economist with Concordia University, says the city can get the biggest bang for it's buck from a weekend like this because it's accustomed to hosting a world class party.

"The fact is because Calgary is so used to hosting the Stampede, they know how to trot out that welcome wagon to make sure everyone coming has a good time," said Lander. "There's no shortage of ways that the city can ramp up at very low cost and in a short period of time to kind of maximize the impact there."

Lander also points out that November isn't usually a big month for tourism in Calgary. 

"The ski hills aren't completely in to ski season yet and the whole winter travel market hasn't settled in but you have lost the summer traveller, so it's a perfect time," he said.

Events have been scheduled across the city, and Valerie Grainger, who attended a pancake breakfast, says she is taking full opportunity of every event.

"This brings people from all over the country to our community and exposes them to how we live and the lay of our land," she said.

"Also the revenue generates to local businesses who are feeling a pinch right now."

Dwaine Boser, the owner of the the Blue Vinny Diner on Stephen Avenue, says he hopes the Grey Cup festivities brings more people downtown.

"We are definitely feeling the effects of the downturn in the economy, so any extra draw into the city is always helpful," he said.

Boser says he thinks a lot of people that are coming in from out of town will be arriving downtown soon so he hopes to see more traffic tomorrow and on the weekend.

"Without the events, downtown is like a ghost town," he said. "Any added events going on in the city is always a big help because it draws more people into the city."

Nizar Mohamed, the owner of Kanata Trading Post, is also looking for a Grey Cup boost.

"I'm hoping to see a lot of people coming downtown from the Stampede grounds and spending their money up here," he said.

While the Calgary Stampeders are not back to defend their Grey Cup title this year, people in the hospitality industry say this year's festival is breathing some much needed life into the local economy. This photo is from last year's celebration after the Stamps took the championship. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

At the gift shop, Mohamed says they're selling jerseys of the teams in the Grey Cup as well as souvenirs for football fans.

"Hopefully it's going to be a good time to make some money. It's going to be really busy if everybody comes downtown," said Mohamed.

Besides nightly fireworks at Stampede Park, downtown events include live entertainment, family fun, winter patios and firepits.

With files from Dave Gilson

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