Saskatchewan

Sask. economy expected to lose millions after Grey Cup festivities postponed to 2022

The Regina Chamber of Commerce estimates the economic loss of the city not hosting Grey Cup festivities this year is "in the range of $100 million."

The Regina Chamber of Commerce estimates an economic loss 'in the range of $100 million'

Mosaic Stadium is now set to host the 2022 Grey Cup, after the 2020 festivities were postponed due to COVID-19. (Glenn Reid/CBC News)

When Regina hosted the 2013 Grey Cup, the province's tourism sector brought in roughly $93 million. That same revenue was projected by Tourism Saskatchewan for later this year, when the city was set to host the championship game again.

However, when news broke Wednesday afternoon that the CFL was pushing the Regina Grey Cup festivities to 2022 due to COVID-19, local businesses braced for another hit to the purse strings.

Mary Taylor-Ash, the CEO of Tourism Saskatchewan said "it's a big deal" regardless of whether people saw it coming.

"When we do host the festival, the economic impact is very far-reaching — everything from the obvious things from hotels and restaurants to retail is impacted," she explained.

Those feelings were echoed by Tracy Fahlman, the president and CEO of the Regina Hotels Association.

She said hotel rooms alone brought in $1 million when the Queen City hosted the Grey Cup in 2013 and a lot of local hoteliers were banking on that money this time around.

"A lot of our business comes from events; this is something our city is incredibly strong in as we are known as a national event destination," she said, listing the recent Heritage Classic and the Garth Brooks concerts at Mosaic Stadium as examples.

Even six months ahead of the championship game, Fahlman said hotel rooms in the city were "incredibly close" to being sold out.

Economic loss 'in the range of $100 million,' says the Regina Chamber of Commerce

The Regina Chamber of Commerce estimates the economic loss of the city not hosting Grey Cup festivities this year is "in the range of $100 million."

That will mostly affect hotels and restaurants — businesses already having a hard time due to the pandemic, according to the chamber's CEO, John Hopkins.

However, he added it brings many local business owners comfort knowing there's somewhat of a plan to regain that economic boost down the line.

"If it would have been, 'It's cancelled and you're not going to get [the Grey Cup], we don't know when you're going to get it,' that would have been a very different scenario," Hopkins said. "We can plan for 2022 and look forward to that, and we can move ahead from there."

Regina mayor has 'mixed feelings' about postponement

Mayor Michael Fougere said he has "mixed feelings" about the Grey Cup festivities' being pushed back two years.

"On the one hand, I'm still excited that we're still looking at a shortened CFL season — that's good news. That there might be a Grey Cup is good news too, but that it won't be in Regina at the festival we had planned is a disappointment," he said. 

Fougere added the City of Regina expects a $16 million loss to the local economy and the province another $25 million.

He noted most of that $16 million was set to go to the federal and provincial governments via taxes, so it shouldn't affect taxpayers.

"What we see is just the impact in terms of additional money in the economy for that period of time — so, in terms of property taxes, we won't see much of an effect at all," said Fougere.

When it was announced Regina would host the 2020 Grey Cup, the city had made a $1 million contribution — $500,000 cash, another $500,000 in-kind. Fougere said that money still holds and will be now pushed to the 2022 Grey Cup event.

About the Author

Jessie Anton is a Regina-based journalist with CBC Saskatchewan. She’s been sharing stories from across the province on television, radio and online since 2016, initially getting her start in the rural weekly newspaper world. Email her: jessie.anton@cbc.ca.

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