Friday, March 28, 2008

Impact of the Oilers on the Local Economy

This is downtown Lacombe, Alberta. A growing town, with a population recently passing 11,000. It is Located ~125KM clicks south of Edmonton. It has largely an Oilers following. This ties into Colby Cosh's recent blog entry.

Colby Cosh, from the National Post, argues this on his blog, dealing on the question whether or not the Oilers draw tourists/out-of-towners that pump in money into the local economy.

Most buyers of Edmonton Oiler tickets come from Edmonton and the surrounding area; cash spent by them is merely moving from place to place within the metropolis. The CFR and the FarmFair add real money to Edmonton—money that comes from Calgary, and Rocky Mountain House, and Kindersley, Sask., and Texas and Wyoming and Nevada. For a whole week every year, the city is full of hundred-dollar hats and two-hundred-dollar shitkickers. Losing the CFR would devastate local businesses, and have an annual macro impact that you'd have to think would be equal to at least four or five Oiler home games.

*Note - This blog entry is steering away from the new arena debate. LittleFury has that covered a few scrolls below. PDO, another new member, also has a on-ice discussion below.

As someone who was born and raised an hour away from Edmonton, the argument seems a bit simplistic. From personal experience, there were/are lots of hockey fans in my community of 8000 who made sure to attend a few games every year. The Oilers are acknowledged to have support all over Alberta, including communities in the south like Lethbridge. The Oilers have also heavily promoted their product in communities across Alberta, including Lloydminister, Fort McMurray, Grand Prairie and other smaller communities - one would assume the Oilers are getting a level of return on these promotional/advertising/marketing costs.

The Oilers also attract to some extent, Calgarians in battle of Alberta games. Saskatchewan (Saskatoon is rumoured to host the Oilers rookie camp next season), NWT, and Manitoba are also assumed to have a solid Oiler following, with many fans making a trip or so every so often and injecting dollar into the economy in the same manner of the CFR. It would also be a fair to assume the hockey fan spends more so than a rodeo attendant, given the discrepancy of ticket prices.

Of course, this raises a few major questions - do a large majority of these out-of-towner hockey fans come to the city regardless of the Oilers (for shopping, other entertainment options, etc.)? Does the CFR draw a large majority of out-of-towners who visit Edmonton solely for the purpose of the rodeo? To what extent does non-ticket sales (i.e. Jerseys and other merchandise) find it's way into the local economy?

At the end of the day, however, it is difficult to precisely measure these numbers - at least not so without a properly researched study.

So let's get some informal discussion/opinions laid out. Are/Were you an Out-of-towner who attends/attended Oiler games? Have you sold tickets to an out-of-towner? Do you know any out-of-towners who attend Oiler games every so often? What is your general overall opinion on the Oilers drawing power?


docweb said...

I live one hour south of Calgary and have had 4 season tickets for the past 7 years. We usually attend a little less than half of the games and sell the rest to friends,family, and season ticket holders who sit around us. Unless it is the playoffs we almost always stay overnight,shop,and do the things that most out-of-towners do when in the "big city". My wife and I went to U of A and had season tickets back in the glory days but gave them up for a while to have kids. Now that our kids are off to Uni we thought about selling the other 2 tickets. They would have nothing of it..even if they only get to a few games a year (but they did get to all of the 06 run!!).
I'm not sure if we are just weird. But...there is no doubt, even down here, there are lots of diehard Oiler fans (you have to be diehard to keep the faith down south).
Would a new arena make me more or less likely to keep renewing? Probably less likely...I HATE driving/staying downtown and I'm sure most "country" folk would have the same opinion.

PunjabiOil said...

That's quite a commmittment docweb! 8 hour drive* (return trip) 20 times a year.

*Assumption - following the speed limit.