PENTICTON - The Canucks Young Stars tournament is coming of age and providing some serious economic returns to the City of Penticton.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit can take a lot of credit for the four day event, which began six years ago following a pitch he made when he was a city councillor to Vancouver Canucks executive to bring the event to the South Okanagan Events Centre.
“We had the capacity with the new events centre. We had a good location with a sister rink in the same building and the convention centre, fitness gym and hotels within a short walk,” he says, admitting the original meeting with Canucks brass six years ago was a bit daunting.
“We really worked hard to meet the various team’s expectations. We made sure we looked after them,” he says, adding he’s very happy to see the event flourishing. He says the six teams coming to Penticton each year use the occasion for corporate retreats in addition to providing them with the opportunity to rate their new players in a real game environment.
“It’s taken five years to become a 'must see event' and it’s become a great way to end summer and kick off hockey season in Penticton,” he says.
This year’s economic return of the tournament to Penticton hasn’t been assessed yet.
“It’s too early for economic impact numbers, but in past studies we’ve calculated approximately $2 million,” he says.
Looking at ticket sales, Jakubeit says 40 per cent of sales came from outside the Okanagan area, with 15 per cent of those coming from Alberta, and 57 per cent from the Okanagan Valley. There were also people from as far north as Yellowknife, south as far as Fort Lauderdale, and east as far as New York and the Maritimes. Most of western North America was also represented.
"The city was busy, it was full, there was lots of energy and excitement, “ he noted. “There was also large number of national sports media in attendance, which is another great way for us to get exposure to the area."
Jakubeit says the tournament is helping to brand Penticton as a destination place, noting the tournament brings several marquee players with each team, making for fast, intense hockey was fun to watch.
"McDavid definitely brought more enthusiasm this year. The Friday night game between Vancouver and Edmonton was probably the best attended event,” he says, adding most of the six games were sellouts this year.
Jakubeit says it was a great weekend to showcase the city with two other big events; the Dragon Boat Festival and the Pentastic Jazz Festival.
"The city was buzzing with activity. There was energy, vibrancy.”
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