Cape Breton hockey tourney pumps millions into economy
23rd Annual Vince Memorial Hockey Tournament held on weekend
One of the largest adult hockey tournaments in the world wrapped up in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality Sunday — leaving behind a large infusion of cash in the Island economy.
The 23rd annual Vince Ryan Memorial Hockey Tournament attracted 134 teams this year, some from as far away as Saskatoon and Los Angeles.
Thousands of players played 230 games and spent millions of dollars, turning Cape Breton's economy into a gold rush over the weekend.
Michelle Bianchini, of Cambridge Suites Hotel in Sydney, said it's always a boost for her business.
"It starts on a Thursday and ends on Sunday. It fills us. With the gentlemen's league and the ladies' league, they spend a little more money — a lot more money," she said.
Richie Warren, tournament chairman, said the tournament is not only good for the economy, it's also a boon for local students.
"It generates into the Cape Breton area $5.1 million for four days. The second lovely thing is every bit of money raised from this tournament goes to our local high schools for scholarships," he said.
Over the past 22 years, close to $1 million has been awarded to students.
But, Warren said, the spirit of fun and hospitality is more important than the actual competition.
In fact, he said, that there's a spirit of generosity at the Vince Ryan that can't be beaten.
Warren singled out a team of Kellogg's employees from London, Ont., who donate a shipment of breakfast cereal to local food banks every year.
"There's a tractor trailer load of cereal that comes in each year. They must have been doing it over 10 years. It comes to Glace Bay, they unload it and it's distributed to every food bank in the CBRM," he said.
This was player Ann Baker's sixth trip to Cape Breton, and hockey isn't the only thing that brings her back. She's also comes for family vacations.
"I wanted my husband to see what a great place it is, and to show him the town and the beautiful countryside," she said.