Hoteliers, restauranteurs right down to dry cleaners saw the benefits of the Canucks Young Stars Classic hosted in Penticton.
“Penticton is very quickly becoming known as a fabulous destination for September and getting national airtime on TSN only helps with exposure,” said Ramada Inn general manager Gordon Ferguson. “The weather is absolutely phenomenal, the golf courses are in great shape and you’re in harvest time for wine. What better tri-fecta of vacation planning is that.”
Ferguson said the NHL clubs stayed at the Ramada and Lakeside over the five days, and on an already busy weekend, the Young Stars gave them even more of a boost to help sell out rooms. The SOEC said about 20,000 people came through their doors with the tournament and the Celtic Thunder concert held on Monday.
“There was a lot of excitement amongst the community and our staff and when I drove around on game days the restaurants were busy and the streets seemed full. It is just wonderful to have these future pro hockey players here and we saw so many new faces around the arena,” said Ferguson.
“I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to host this every year because it is a tremendous opportunity for the city of Penticton.”
Walter Nowek, owner and operator of Plaza Dry Cleaners, also wrangled some business from the tournament. Being a huge hockey and Vancouver Canucks fan, it was an honour to have the responsibility of cleaning all the jerseys.
“We don’t try to do it to make a lot of money. We do it because it is fun and a challenge. There is a lot of hours every day put into cleaning those jerseys after every game and practice,” said Newell, who has owned the business for 18 years. “We did get to sleep sometimes and managed to watch two and half games. We like the boost in business but as hockey fans this is great.”
While local business and hockey fans appreciate the tournament, so do players and the NHL organizations.
Jonathan Wall, director of hockey administration for the Canucks, said the organization was really happy with how the Canucks Young Stars Classic went. Wall said crowds were great and praised the support of the community.
“The volunteers and everyone else who stepped up to put it on were critical to it,” he said.
When asked about returning, Wall said they would like to come back.
“Our partners, the teams want to come back,” said Wall, following the Canucks’ 2-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday afternoon. “Look at the NHL schedule, meet with the teams, meet with the building, make sure it works coming back. We’d like to confirm it as soon as possible. We want to get started getting people engaged for next year if we can do it again.”
Wall added they would like to make the Classic a larger event so fans can enjoy more good hockey. He added that having a sixth team would be great.
Event chair and city councillor Andrew Jakubeit said he was pleased with how things turned out and that’s because the teams were happy. Jakubeit said the community was thrilled to have the Canucks, Jets, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks here. Fans were given the chance to see talented players competing on a fast, intense stage.
Fans also got to watch Canucks alumni players face the Penticton Old-Timers and a Party on the Plaza on Sunday afternoon.
“A wonderful opportunity to host these teams here,” said Jakubeit. “Have this event continue on an annual basis and just grow. Lots of things for kids and families. We wanted to create more of a hockey festival. I think that’s the element that we are going to continue to grow. Really make this a destination for any hockey fan to attend.”
Jakubeit said he has a good feeling the event will return.
When it comes to the economic impact, the initial year Jakubeit estimated it brought in close to $2 million, with the help of the Canucks’ training camp, and this year will be around the $1 million figure.
“It certainly has significant impact to our community,” he said.
“When you have upwards of 80 or 90 media that float through here and talk about Penticton and the facility. Games are web streamed, teams have local media here. We certainly get lots of exposure.
“That’s exposure you really can’t buy anywhere.”