World juniors tournament expected to bring $10M into local economy

World juniors tournament expected to bring $10M into local economy

WATCH: The World Juniors is the biggest sporting event to be held in Victoria since the 1994 Commonwealth Games. Ceilidh Millar reports.

The concourse at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria was packed with fans on Thursday who have gathered to cheer on their country at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.

“It’s the first time I’ve been here so I’m really enjoying it,” said one fan from Slovakia.

The excitement for one of the world’s most popular hockey tournaments extends well beyond the arena.

“It’s major business no matter how you count it,” said Paul Nursey with Destination Greater Victoria.

The event is estimated to bring in millions of dollars to the local economy.

“We’ve estimated very conservatively a $10-million economic impact,” said Nursey. “We took that number from the last time the juniors were held in Canada.”

The 31-game tournament will be split between Victoria and Vancouver and is reputed to feature some of the best hockey players in the world.

Several downtown hotels are fully booked for tournament days, something that is rarely seen at this time of year.

“This event brings great exposure for our city,” said general manager Reid James with the Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria.

As temporary hosts of two competing teams, as well as international media, The Hotel Grand Pacific is completely sold-out for the entire 10 days of the tournament.

“So that’s a lot of business for a short period of time,” Reid explained.

Local restaurants and sports bars are also reaping the benefits with many places projecting a 20 per cent increase in business.

“It has been very busy,” said manager John Walters of the Hillside Boston Pizza. “We get lots of traffic from the arena as well as people coming in to watch the games on TV.”

Walters said all 170 seats at the restaurant were filled Wednesday night as Canada took on Denmark.

“Just seeing all the hockey fans coming and going is pretty cool,” explained Walters.

It’s the first time the province has hosted the games since 2006.

Even this year’s Canucks prospect, Tyler Madden, is a big fan of the West Coast.

“We went up to Everett when I was in development camp and that’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been,” said Madden, Team USA Forward.

The tournament runs until Jan. 5, 2019.

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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