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Summer Games’ economic impact receiving mixed reviews

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jul 31, 2014 06:00 am

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As the 2014 Alberta Summer Games and its 3,000 participants took over Airdrie from July 24 to 27, local businesses were amping up for a busy weekend.

While there were a number of visitors in and around Airdrie, some businessowners said they didn’t see a significant increase in foot traffic.

“In a simple word – No,” said Alan Pile, president of Iron Horse Park. “In reality, on July 24 we saw about 100 riders composed of a French School Visit from Calgary that had been previously booked because we were open and July 25 was rather dismal because of the rain and wind. We had about 35 riders in the morning before the weather turned sour.”

Pile explained that the number of weekend visits to the local historic tourist attraction were not what was anticipated.

“On July 26 we saw about 400 riders, largely made up of residents of Airdrie (and one birthday party) who had noted that we were open on Saturday due to the Games,” he said.

Iron Horse Park was opened from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day of the Summer Games to entice visitors to take a ride on their historic trains. Normally the park is open to the public on Sundays only.

“July 27 was a good day with just over 800 riders,” he said. “We strongly feel that the lack of transportation to the ‘cultural events’ after the days events were over dictated the poor response from Games participants.”

According to Al Jones, chairman of the Games, it was the responsibility of particular organizations to offer transportation solutions to athletes visiting during the Games.

“Our responsibility was to bring the athletes to Airdrie,” Jones said. “I know that the Boys and Girls (Club of Airdrie) was rocking and there was tons of entertainment offered up at the Bert Church Theatre.”

Jones said, those businesses that choose to “take advantage” of the extra visitors in the city “were very busy.”

The owner of Airdrie’s Boston Pizza – located on Sierra Springs Drive – however, said he didn’t notice a large increase in sales.

“Although there was a significant buzz around town, we didn’t see much of a spike in business, if any,” said Kip Lindsay, franchisee of Boston Pizza. “We are typically very busy on these days as it is.”

However, it was that “buzz” around town that made the Games a success for the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce.

“I don’t have official numbers (on the economic benefits of the Games) in yet, from our stand point, it was wonderful to see all the visitors walking around our town and for some of the smaller shopping centres they had access to more and different types of clientele,” said Wade Cormier, president of the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce.

Numbers of the amount of visitor’s passes that were sold at the Games were not known as of press time.

“The Games will leave a legacy in Airdrie for its residents and its athletes,” Cormier said.


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