Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Tournament means long-term boost for city

The investment in bringing the FIFA Under 20 World Cup to Victoria may pay off in short-term gains for sporting goods stores, fast-food vendors and beer sales, but the significant economic impact is more likely to be felt in the long-term according t

The investment in bringing the FIFA Under 20 World Cup to Victoria may pay off in short-term gains for sporting goods stores, fast-food vendors and beer sales, but the significant economic impact is more likely to be felt in the long-term according to some stakeholders.

Victoria's hospitality industry, which got a slight bump in revenues during the 11 days the tournament touched down in the city, is looking toward 2008 and 2009 for the real payday.

"It was OK, but it wasn't any more than if we were hosting a different kind of conference," said Hotel Grand Pacific general manager Reid James. He was asked what kind of spending the hotel, which played host to FIFA officials and organizers, saw outside of room revenue. "The rooms were good, but I think we were all hoping to see people from all over the world come and stay in our hotels and watch the games and that didn't happen.

"But [the tournament] was a huge advertisement for the destination."

James, like many in the hospitality industry, expects the world-wide media coverage of the tournament will pay off with visits to the host cities in the coming years.

"That's the big win for us -- the media coverage," said Tourism Victoria's vice-president of marketing Melissa McLean, who said events like this tend to pay off for hosting cities a year or two down the line.

But there were plenty who reaped immediate benefit.

John Soares, owner of soccer-themed Titan Sports on Hillside Avenue, has all but sold out of $100 replica team jerseys. He also did a booming business in T-shirts and even helped outfit a couple of the competing teams.

"We saw a lot of traffic here, the Costa Rican team came here to buy shoes, and some Nigerian players and their coach were in to buy some stuff they needed," he said. "I knew this would be successful, but I didn't think I would sell that fast or that much."

The only replica jersey he had left yesterday was a lone Nigerian jersey.

"If we had the Canadian team playing here, you'd have seen even more impact, for sure those jerseys would have been going out the door so fast," he added.

At the playing venue itself, hot dogs, pop and beer have also been flying.

According to Jeff Brehaut, facility and event co-ordinator at Royal Athletic Park, on an average day there were 1,800 hot dogs, 800 bottles of water, 600 units of pop (591 ml), 2,100 servings of beer and 700 ciders bought from the city-run vendors in the permanent grandstand which holds about 3,400 fans.

Brehaut said that likely represented only one-quarter of food and beverage sales at RAP on any given day, as there were 27 private vendors doing brisk business at either end of the stadium for the rest of the 11,500 spectators.

One of those vendors, Vancouver Island Brewery, has been pouring pints non-stop since the tournament started.

"We support more than 200 events in a year and comparatively the volume [sold at RAP] is probably one-quarter of all of that combined," said Jeff Zamluk, the brewery's events co-ordinator. "We have seven taps at each station pouring two brands and during gaps (half-time and between games) it's on full-time, there's no shutting those taps off."

The imbibing, however, doesn't seem to carry on en masse outside the park.

According to Joel Chudleigh, sales and marketing manger for the Strathcona Hotel, despite having a bus ready to shuttle people to the hotel from RAP, it has been quiet.

However, the pub has been a venue to watch games being broadcast from other Canadian cities.

"We've had one group cheering on one team at one side of the bar while another group [does the same] on the other," he said. "So there has been some interest, not brilliant, but it might get better as we get into the semi-finals and the finals depending on who's playing."