THUNDER BAY – The Scotties Tournament of Hearts will only allow entrance to players, coaches, officials and essential operational staff/volunteers to Fort William Gardens which drastically lowered projected tourism income from travelling fans, but national coverage may make up for it.
“It’s very disappointing, especially with all of the work that’s been put in by the local organizing committee to get this event with the ever-changing landscape that the pandemic has brought with all of the restrictions that come with it,” said John Cameron, Tourism Thunder Bay development officer.
“Health and safety of participants, fans, and those attending are paramount to hosting events. Those are the cards you’re dealt with and unfortunately, it's not the full event that everyone was expecting.”
Tourism Thunder Bay and the city of Thunder Bay recreation and culture division are a part of Sport Tourism Canada and use a modeling system that comes from the National Sports Organization called the Sports Tourism Assessment Model Tool to determine the economic impact large sporting events will have on the city.
“The budget for the Scotties is roughly $1.5 million and there was roughly $1.2 million in capital upgrades to the Fort William Gardens. So, the direct spend in our community is still going to be around $2.7 million direct spend over the course of the last three years leading up to and actually hosting the event,” said Cameron.
“We are looking at a potential economic impact for the city of still around $3 million. Now, with the potential 5,000 fans that could have come here, to watch over the 10 days, we were looking at $7.5 million to $8 million.”
Right now, the city is down to two hotels hosting the players, crews, and officials, whereas if the pandemic were not happening, the city would have seen 13-14 hotels filled with fans.
Despite the lack of fans travelling to Thunder Bay for the event, the city will still get its chance to shine through broadcast on national sports networks.
“The 10 days, 27 draws, a number of hours that TSN is going to broadcast, it definitely factored in. the earned media value is something that we couldn’t even think about paying for if we were paying that amount,” said Cameron.
“I think it's somewhere above $10 million in earned media value that comes with the broadcast. It’s probably much higher than that when we’re talking about the national coverage, we’re going to get on social media and national coverage on normal channels.”