Oilers playoff run continues to lift Edmonton businesses

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As the Edmonton Oilers prepare to head south to the Sunshine State, Edmonton businesses are riding the wave of business initiated by the playoffs and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, Doug Griffiths, wants to see the energy continue into the summer.

“I don’t know, it feels like this run is uniting Edmontonians and getting them excited. But it’s broader than that. It’s drawing people from around North America, their attention to Edmonton and how amazing our city is,” said Griffiths.

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On Saturday, the Edmonton Oilers will play their first Stanley Cup Final game in 18 years against the Florida Panthers. It’s been a hard-fought playoff run for the Oilers as they overcame tough teams to earn their spot in the finals. The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce’s (ECC) CEO, Doug Griffiths, believes that as the business community revels in the boom of the playoffs, the team’s hearty performance has also reminded Edmontonians of the value of their city.

“I think all this combination of stuff that’s been happening over the past few weeks will just go through into the summer, (and) are just changing the psychological dynamic of the city. It’s like it’s energized and believes in itself like it hasn’t for a long time,” said Griffiths.

It’s no secret to the Edmonton business community that the Edmonton Oilers’ playoff run is good for business. The businesses getting the brunt of the boom, of course, is the restaurant and pub industry. Moneris, Canada’s leading payment processing company, has tracked the spending habits of Edmontonians around the playoffs for years.

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In 2022, the restaurant industry near Roger’s Place saw an impressive 233 per cent leap in business on May 22, according to Moneris. While facing the Vancouver Canucks in round two this year, Edmonton’s restaurants near the arena on May 14 saw a 92 per cent surge in traffic.

Griffiths said the increased activity in the food industry is vital as many businesses continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has had a profound impact,” said Griffiths of the cup run.

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But the impact, Griffiths suggested, isn’t just simply on the restaurant industry.

“It would be probably hard pressed to identify businesses that aren’t being impacted by this.”

As the saying goes, a rising tide raises all boats. Whether it’s retail stores or tourism operations, Griffiths said they’re all getting the benefit of a long playoff run. The Oilers, Griffiths said, have generated energy and momentum that he feels has had a restorative effect on the city, which perhaps hadn’t fully healed from the trials of the pandemic.

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As socialization went, so too he said fled the city’s willingness to celebrate.

“I think one of the saddest moments for me was when we took down the City of Champions sign because even if our sports teams didn’t win the cup every year, this is still a city of champions,” he said.

The ‘City of Champions’ slogan was introduced to Edmonton in the 1980s following the devastation caused by the ‘Black Friday’ tornado on July 31, 1987, which killed 27 people and injured hundreds. Edmonton’s Mayor in 1988, Laurence Decore, officially gave the slogan as a reference to the resilience of the city in the wake of the natural disaster, but it also came during a long run of Stanley Cup successes, which has often meant the slogan’s meanings were conflated with both the tornado and the team.

Griffiths wants to see the energy from the Oilers, regardless of the result, continue and to use the playoffs as an opportunity to showcase Edmonton to the world while they’re watching.

“This is still a city of champions. This is where champions invest. This is where champions get educated. This is where champions be part of communities,” began Griffiths, listing the many reasons he felt that Edmontonians can take pride in their champion status.

“I could talk to you for 20 minutes about all the different ways we’re champions, but I think Edmontonians are ready to believe that again.”

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