SUMMERSIDE - Summerside may have lost its professional basketball team but that hasn’t stopped the city from generating economic spin-offs in the wake of the team's move to Charlottetown.
Island Storm point guard Al Stewart tosses up a shot during NBL action on New Year's Eve in Charlottetown.
With the open dates left at Credit Union Place when the Summerside Storm moved east, the city has scheduled 16 minor hockey tournaments to fill the void.
Duke Cormier, president of Tourism Summerside, said the impact of the number of players, coaches, team staff, family and friends is substantial but often goes unnoticed.
“The Storm were a wonderful product but a team would come in and a team would go,” he said. “The Storm were residents here so we didn’t see any big punch from them. As far as anyone going to a Storm game, they may becoming from Charlottetown or from up west but they really weren’t coming in to stay in town.”
Cormier said minor hockey tournaments provide a steady flow of people in and out of the city and they stay at local accommodations and eat at local restaurants.
“As president of Tourism Summerisde, I love to see the opportunity for our hotels and motels to get some room nights in the off season,” he said. “We can look at it as a win for the tourism industry and the services as far as restaurants and hotels go. This model, it could be argued that it’s stronger now. The other side of that is when you’re seeing on Sportsnet Summerside losing to Brampton, is there value to that? I don’t know.”
Cormier said in the short term, he is seeing the minor hockey tournaments as a nicer model than the Storm.
“When you add that whole thing up it becomes quite a significant piece of business ,” he said.
J P Desrosiers, the city's director of the Community Development Department, said the minor hockey tournaments do have a significant impact on the local economy.
“As fantastic as the signature events are, the big concerts or the signature sporting events, what we do seem to forget about are those sports tourism events that are so great for the community,” he said.
He said the city did a review of 2013 and found Summerside welcomed 52 minor and amateur sporting events.
“We’re on target for getting 67 in 2014,” Desrosiers said. “They will be all over the city. There will be golf tournaments, baseball, football, soccer, everything under the sun. They bring a substantial impact to the tourism sector. Those don’t get mentioned a lot but those are substantial.”
Desrosiers said it is the goal of the community services department to encourage more tournaments.
He credited Doug Dexter and the P.E.I. Minor Hockey Association for bringing the minor hockey tournaments to Credit Union Place as a replacement for the Summerside Storm.
“They’re hosting a tournament every month from November (2013) to March 2014,” Desrosiers said. If everything goes well with them this year, we’ll be doing it again next year.”