'It's going to get crazy': Calgary businesses looking forward to Flames playoffs
Calgary went wild when the Flames made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004, and businesses along 17 Avenue S.W. are hoping to see the team recreate that type of energy this year.
On Tuesday, the Flames open the post-season at home against the Dallas Stars, and pubs along the Red Mile are looking forward to a financial boost.
"We're getting a lot of interest," said Jamesons Pub owner Harry Dimitriadis. "We're probably already half full for the first three games."
"If they start going further, it's going to get crazy. The energy grows every round and I think we have the team this year that can do it."
The Flames haven't won a playoff series since they took down the Vancouver Canucks in 2015.
With Calgary finishing the regular season atop the Pacific Division, fans and business owners hope to see a deep push to recreate some of the magic the city felt back in 2004.
"We're super excited," said Porch bar manager Thanasi Alefantis. "I've been hearing a lot about it. Everyone is coming down, everyone's looking forward to it."
"This is our first time experiencing the Red Mile and we can't wait to get hit by it."
The Flames' Red Lot Viewing Party, which can hold up to 5,000 fans, is back this year for home games.
The City of Calgary is also preparing for increased foot traffic along 17th Avenue S.W. with multiple portable toilets set up along parts of the sidewalk.
Amid all the optimism leading up to the post-season, some small businesses – especially in the service industry – say they are still face staffing shortages.
"We've seen COVID take out a lot of people on an ongoing basis. Every day, we hear about someone catching it and then they can't come to work, or they can't fulfill what they're supposed to be doing," said Deborah Yedlin, Calgary Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.
"Businesses want to be able to open with certainty at capacity. So, that means having the right staffing levels available to serve their customers, and if you have a gap, you don't want to lose business as a result."
Still, with the playoffs set to begin and a full-capacity Calgary Stampede right around the corner, establishments hope this summer will help them recoup some of the losses that came about during the pandemic.
"I think this summer is going to be really, really busy," said Dimitriadis. "A lot of people are dying to get out."
"Up until probably August, I think we're going to see a strong summer overall. August usually dies down for a lot of places because a lot of people are vacationing or out camping, but all in all, we're looking at a really good year."
Tuesday's Flames game is scheduled for 8 p.m. MT, and 17 Avenue is poised to come alive when the puck drops.
ADDITIONAL POLICE ON RED MILE
City officials say there will be an additional police presence on 17th Avenue S.W. during home games to make sure the area is safe.
"Alcohol is only permitted in licensed establishments and public consumption of cannabis is not allowed," said a Tuesday news release.
NO ROAD CLOSURES PLANNED
The City of Calgary says no road closures are planned for 17th Avenue S.W. for the first round of the NHL playoffs.
"We encourage all Calgarians to stay off the road in order to stay safe and allow traffic to move," the city said.
Parking bans will be in effect along 17th Avenue S.W. between Second Street S.W. and Eighth Street S.W. starting at 7 p.m. during home playoff games to "help facilitate the flow of traffic and enhance safety."
CALGARY TRANSIT ADDING EXTRA SERVICES
Calgary Transit will be adding extra services to "help support demand" during home games," said the city.
"We remind anyone taking Calgary Transit that provincial rules still require you to wear face coverings while riding with us."
For more information you can visit Calgary Transit's website.