Red Mile puts Calgary businesses back in the black as profits soar

The Battle of Alberta is a part of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in over 30 years, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for local businesses that struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic.

After an incredible start to Round 2, which saw the Calgary Flames rout the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 9-6, it appears the entire city is buzzing with excitement. 

Ernie Tsu, who owns Trolley 5 Brew Pub on 17th Avenue, says his sales are up and the atmosphere is electric. 

"There are so many Oilers and Flames fans that are at the same table, so it's been so great," he said. "Everyone’s been having so much fun for the Battle of Alberta."

"I had restaurants in 2004 on the Red mile and it was a flashback; this is thousands of people on the street, lots of Oilers jerseys, a majority Flames jerseys (obviously), but the C of Red with the Red Mile was definitely back in in play."

Puck drop for Game 2 is 8:30 p.m. on Friday at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome, and several bar and restaurant owners are hoping spending trends are similar to what they saw in the first round of the playoffs. 

According to Moneris, Canada’s largest payment provider, the first round of the playoffs in Calgary saw a double-digit growth in spending for bars and restaurants across the city during home games.

Data from Game 1 versus the Dallas Stars saw an overall increase in food and drink spending of 32 per cent at businesses near the Saddledome, and an increase of 13 per cent for the rest of the city.

Purchases of pints of beer saw a 65 per cent increase at businesses near the arena, as well for Game 1 of the first round alone.

Game 7 in particular was a huge win with food and drink spending overall up 40 per cent near the arena and almost 20 per cent for the rest of the city. Bars saw the largest increase, up 68 per cent in spending near the arena, while restaurants were up 38 per cent. 

JERSEY SALES SPIKING AMID FLAMES PLAYOFF RUN 

Flames fans aren’t just spending their money on food and drinks, they’re also using it to upgrade their wardrobe. 

Die-hard Flames supporters like Stevie Dougherty can’t wait to attend the game in style.

Dougherty was so inspired by the performance of Flames defenceman Nikita Zadorov that he decided to purchase his number 16 jersey at FanAttic.

"The Flames wear the retro jersey and I have the old one and I don’t see anyone wearing a Zadorov jersey, so I thought this would be a good purchase," he said. 

Brent Gibbs, director of retail with Calgary Sports & Entertainment, says he’s never seen such a surge in sales.

"The excitement of the city has been unbelievable, and we’re seeing such an overwhelming response; our sales have been just fantastic since we started the playoffs," he said.

"Our staff have been working extremely hard to make sure that our stores are stocked up and ready to go, it’s been a lot of really long days and we love to be a part of this."

Gibbs adds that supply chain issues are still a problem for his staff which is working to obtain new Flames products on a daily basis to keep up the demand.

"Some items we just can’t keep up on those shelves fast enough."