“I can’t lie, I’m an awful liar — I’m very very disappointed that Sunday played out like it did,” festival executive director Geordie Macleod said.
“But ultimately for the league and for the festival, the net effect is not a negative one necessarily because fans of the CFL do travel.”
While some Calgary football fans have put their tickets up for sale since the Stamps were ousted, organizers said that may be offset by fans from other teams looking to take in the game.
Tourism Calgary originally calculated more than 30,000 out-of-town visitors would head to Calgary for the big Grey Cup match.
Officials said that could now rise.
“From a tourism perspective, there’s definitely an opportunity for more visitors from the rest of Canada to come to Calgary when you don’t have your home team there,” Tourism Calgary’s Carson Ackroyd said.
“Our expectation is that all of the hotels, at least in the downtown area, will be completely sold out,” Macleod added.
Add to that the increase in restaurant business and other tourist activity and officials expect a direct economic boom to the city in the range of about $40 million.
“From an economic and tourism perspective, we’ll definitely still see a significant bump,” Ackroyd said.
“It’s one of the biggest events that any Canadian city can host in a year. You will see the city hopping with a tremendous amount of activity.”
Organizers also point out the Grey Cup Festival is not only about the Grey Cup game. Festivities start a few days before the actual game at different venues across the city.
“Our expectation is that Calgarians, fans of the Stampeders, will still come to the festival,” Macleod said. “Geez, I sure hope they do. We’ve gone to a lot of trouble to build something that is going to be pretty big and pretty great for everyone in this city to enjoy — separate of whether or not you’re a fan of the football team.”
“There’s a tremendous party plan in Calgary with over 40 events,” Ackroyd added. “So there’s a lot for Calgarians to get involved in and still be excited about — even though the Stamps aren’t in it.”
The 2019 Grey Cup Festival kicks off Wednesday, Nov. 20.