Edmonton Journal article (World junior tournament boost for city's economy - and image)January 2 2012 at 12:11 PM
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World junior tournament boost for city's economy - and image
Event expected to generate over $45 million for Edmonton: official
By Trish Audette, Edmonton Journal With Files From Farhan Devji And Aaron Taylor
January 2, 2012
Team Canada goalie Scott Wedgewood, left, and Team USA goalie Jack Campbell shake hands after Canada defeated USA 3-2 at the world junior hockey championship on Saturday.
Photograph by: Larry Wong, The Journal, Edmonton Journal With Files From Farhan Devji And Aaron Taylor
Edmonton could "easily" see more than $45 million in net benefits from co-hosting the 2012 IIHF World Junior hockey championship, an economic development official says.
Rexall Place drew capacity crowds and downtown hotel rooms were fully booked last week as Edmonton hosted the world's top young hockey players.
Officials counting returns on investment could not offer firm numbers Sunday, as the championship moved entirely to Calgary. But the promise of millions of dollars for Edmonton is likely to show up in increased retail sales, traffic at West Edmonton Mall, taxi and public transportation use, and restaurant bills, Edmonton Economic Development Corporation spokeswoman Renee Worrell said Sunday.
When Saskatoon hosted the World Juniors in the 1990s, Worrell noted, the city saw a net benefit of $15 mil-lion.
"We'll easily triple that. Easily. That's just a minimum," she said.
"In the coming weeks we'll have a better idea for sure. There were a ton of visitors from out of province. ... (And) when you've got folks visiting from other places, they're not just going to stay in their hotel rooms. They're going to go out exploring." The two-week tournament is serious business for Edmonton, Calgary and Alberta.
"This is a tournament that's followed closely all around the world in hockey-loving nations," Tourism Minister Jack Hayden said.
"It's big. From my perspective, any chance that we get to highlight our province, because there's always associated stories along with the hockey stuff ... it creates opportunities for us for tourism. It's great, it brings us lots of attention. And of course it's neat to see the best in the world."
The Canada-U.S. game Saturday night was Edmonton's last.
Edmonton Coun. Kim Krushell said it was clear people in Edmonton were excited about the games.
"Obviously it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a lot of people (were) hanging out in the downtown" before hopping the LRT to Rexall Place, Krushell said.
"This was also about pride in Alberta and Canada in general."
Mike Leonhardt, from Camrose, drove to Edmonton every day for the tournament.
"It's been awesome. It's been re-ally exciting. All the games have been really well attended, even the games that Canada hasn't been in," Leonhardt said Saturday afternoon. "The crowd's been really into it, at the rink and at Northlands with the hockey house. It's been a really good time."
Leonhardt said events like the World Junior Championship bring people from outside the city into the capital.
"Edmonton always does a good job of putting events on. It brings people in from the surrounding communities like us from Camrose," he said. "It's also televised across the world so it gets lots of exposure all over the place."
Tickets to the games in Edmonton and Calgary sold out almost immediately after last year's games in Buffalo, N.Y., ended. Organizers had difficulty breaking out the 575,000 ticket sales by buyers' countries of origin, but it appeared most people at the games came from Edmonton and Calgary.
Nonetheless, officials pointed to a much longer "spinoff" period of three to five years for drawing people to the province. For example, they said, Alberta hasn't completely seen the effects of self-promotion during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. At the Olympics, the province spent about $6.6-million to promote Alberta; money was spent on a tour train from North Vancouver to Whistler, iPod Touches for train passengers, promotional parties, and travel expenses for government officials on the ground.
"Any time we have an international event of this nature, the media attention on the destination increases awareness of Alberta as a vacation destination," said Travel Alberta spokesman Don Boynton.
"That, coupled with the people who are visiting here from around the world to participate, and to watch the tournament, creates a buzz in the community ... It's a long cycle from the event to, I'd say, incremental increases in visitation as a result of it."
Tournament co-chairman Lyle Best said virtually all the games in Edmonton were packed; every game featuring Team Canada had capacity attendance of roughly 16,300, while the lowest-attended game still had nearly 14,000 people in the stands at Rexall. Almost all of the countries represented at the tournament had broadcasters in Edmonton and Calgary this week, televising the games and offering snapshots of Alberta to home audiences.
"It's a showcase to the world," Best said.
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
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