‘Like (Flames head coach) Darryl (Sutter) said … there’s nothing better. This is the greatest thing in the world for us’
The biggest winner in the Battle of Alberta may end up being the bars and restaurants in the vicinity of the Saddledome.
Financial company Moneris examined receipts from the food and beverage industry in Alberta’s NHL cities and found massive differences in sales between game days and non-game days. And those close to the arenas cashed in at a much higher rate than establishments throughout the rest of the cities.
Pete Emes, co-owner of Home and Away Bar at 1207 1st Street S.W., said they usually see sales increase 15 to 20 per cent each round, and that’s without the Flames and Oilers doing battle. Now people are showing up earlier than before and staying later.
“They were coming in right after work, you could feel it, it was the only thing on people’s minds,” he said of Wednesday night’s Game 1, which the Flames won 9-6.
“Like (Flames head coach) Darryl (Sutter) said . . . there’s nothing better. This is the greatest thing in the world for us, we’re coming out of the pandemic, we’re coming out of hardships in our industry and the other main industry in town as well. I feel like it has everyone feeling good and feeling optimistic, and it’s bringing people together.”
For Game 1 of the Flames’ first-round series against the Dallas Stars, sales were up 32 per cent in restaurants and bars near the arena and 13 per cent for the rest of the city. Bars near the Saddledome saw a 65 per cent increase. For the Game 7 series-clinching win in overtime, sales hit 68 per cent in bars near the arena and 42 per cent in the rest of Calgary. Restaurants also had their biggest night at 41 per cent near the rink and 18 per cent everywhere else.
Data has not yet been tabulated for Game 1 of Round 2.
Emes said they were near capacity every night of the first round, with Oilers fans filling the bar on off nights for the Flames.
Sean McCormick, the director of business development for Moneris, said he expects the nightly earnings to increase with each game as more people catch the playoff fever. There is also a pent-up desire to feel connected and a part of something in the community.
For a sector that has been battered since March of 2020, a revival of the rivalry could not have happened at a better time.
“Something like a Stanley Cup run, while it won’t make up for the losses of the last two years at these bars and restaurants, oh, my god, what a shot in the arm,” he said. “What a welcome event after the two toughest years of their businesses’ history.”
NOTE — This story has been corrected on the metrics of the data from year-over-year to game day versus non-game days, based off of information provided by Moneris.