Regina businesses scoring big with economic spinoff thanks to Grey Cup

Regina’s business community is feeling the Grey Cup boost.

As the clock ticks down to kickoff, Regina is beginning to buzz as football fanatics from across the country arrive in the Queen City for the big game.

Local business owners, meanwhile, say they’re already seeing a benefit as hotels, restaurants and shops get busier and busier.

“We’re all really excited, people are starting to come from all across Canada for the Grey Cup. We’ve got all of our staff scheduled. I think we’re ready to go,” Bushwakker Brewpub bar manager Grant Frew said.

The expected financial impact predicted by Economic Development Regina is $60 to 70 million through the weekend.

“There’s been a lot of energy in the city and that’s fantastic. It really helps that our hotels are full. People from all over the country are using our restaurants, getting a feel for the tastes of Regina, as well as the unique retail shops,” Regina Chamber of Commerce CEO Tony Playter said.

As Regina is cashing in on the Grey Cup week, economic experts say hotels are full, restaurants are packed and fans are exhilarated.

“Today’s a real big day, people are starting to fly in, the city is bumping and busy, some great local bars like O’Hans are getting busy, which just adds to the excitement of the whole festival,” Steve Hanson, a CFL fan in Regina, said.

“Fans are very passionate and while it’s unfortunate (the Saskatchewan Roughriders are) not in the game, they’re still football fans and they will celebrate with the Toronto Argonauts fans and maybe not so much the Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans because of the rivalry. But they love Grey Cup, they love football. It’s going to be just a fantastic celebration,” Playter said.

Playter added that events like these put Regina on the map as a place where national events can be hosted successfully and that attracts other events to Saskatchewan, adding benefits to local businesses, hotels and the labour force.

“I think that Regina has always been a welcoming city to host any event. And we have such a great corps of volunteers that make people feel welcome,” he said.

At Bushwakker, preparations for the Grey Cup started three months ago with the brewing of a special kind of beer: the Three Down Pilsner, a beautiful golden bohemian lager. Frew said it’s a keepsake for everyone coming to Regina, something they can take home to remember the Grey Cup in Saskatchewan

There’s also a traditional burger battle happening in town.

“We are presenting a Grey Cup burger battle. We have a couple of very kicked-up burgers, we have a Toronto burger in a pint special and a Winnipeg burger in a pint special,” Frew said.

Whichever burger sells the most settles the pregame beef.

“It’s a huge boost for us at all restaurants. The pandemic was absolutely devastating so right now, things are looking great. We have the Grey Cup, we have a sold-out scotch tasting event, next week we have agribition and then a week after that we have the blackberry mead releasing on the first Saturday in December,” Frew said.

He was optimistic despite the current economic climate in Canada, which has seen multiple interest rate hikes and inflation.

“I mean, our costs are certainly going up…. A national event of this calibre, people are going to come. They want to have a good experience.”

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