After the dust settled, organizers of the 109th Grey Cup in Regina called the event a tremendous success.
However, that sentiment is not shared by some in the restaurant industry.
“I don’t even want to do a Grey Cup again. I just felt like we were left out,” says Kelly Monette, general manager of Bushwakker Brewpub.
The Grey Cup festival left a sour taste for the brewpub located in Regina’s warehouse district.
With expectations for a prosperous week, Monette says extra staff were brought in, but most nights she sent them home early.
In comparison, Monette says the 2013 Grey Cup in Regina brought in an extra 75,000 dollars for the brewpub. This time around it was less than 40,000.
She feels a big part of the downturn is because most of the major festival events, including six of the seven team-party rooms were held at the city-owned REAL District.
“I feel the CFL and the organizers did not include the whole city, they just wanted things on the (REAL) grounds,” said Monette.
Festival organizers did not respond to inquiries for this story, however, REAL CEO Tim Reid was previously quoted saying the highlight of Grey Cup was when all the buildings on the REAL grounds were at capacity on the Saturday night.
Leasa Gibbons, with the Warehouse Business Improvement District, says a centralized formula for major events doesn’t always lend itself to the inclusion of small businesses.
“Its not great for local businesses and restaurants that aren’t located on-site, and if you’re coming from out of town you might not know they exist and you’re only here for a very short time,” said Gibbons.
Gibbons says she heard quite a few establishments across the city felt let down, but at the same time she understands the festival has to be financially self-sufficient.
She also admits that it’s difficult to hold the 2013 Grey Cup as the watermark because it was a better situation with the Riders in the game.
Grey Cup Festival in full swing just 24 hours from kickoff
It wasn’t all doom and gloom outside the REAL grounds. Rebellion Brewing Company also located in the warehouse district says Grey Cup was their busiest week since Christmas of 2018.
They attribute that to some creative marketing strategies that had them greeting and handing out coupons to Grey Cup guests as they arrived at the airport in Regina.
“A lot of people showed up with their little coupon and we ended up having a great week,” said Rebellion president Mark Heise.
Though, Heise said he heard from some local businesses who were disappointed with the turnout.
“Going forward, yes we would love to see a lot more opportunities for us to participate,” said Heise.
Gibbons shares that mindset and hopes for more cohesion between major events and the cities small business community.
“As a city and community we need to stand our ground that local business is important and find a way that we can play in that larger piece.”
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