A FIFA World Cup qualifying match isn’t the only major event taking over Edmonton this weekend.
For the first time, Edmonton and Rogers Place will host the Professional Bull Riders Canada National Finals.
John Brodie is excited about a recent boost in business. He co-owns Cavern, a bistro just down the street from Rogers Place.
“We definitely see an increase in business,” he said. “There’s a lot of Airbnb in these condo buildings on 104 Street and hotels in the area fill up.
“We had a few out-of-towners in here last night.”
This weekend marks the first big event at the new Ice District Plaza, a two-day tailgating party for the PBR Canada National Finals.
“I do think that people need this right now,” said Andrea Carroll, the Oilers Entertainment Group’s director of event operations.
“I think that we’re getting into the winter season and we’re ready to have a little bit of a party.”
Puneeta McBryan with Edmonton’s Downtown Business Association said the downtown has started seeing an uptick in visitors, but it’s large events like the PBR event that have an impact.
“Having events like this mean everything,” she said.
“This singlehandedly will get so many of our bars and restaurants (and) our hotels through a month they might have not have known they were going to get through.”
Explore Edmonton estimates more than 50,000 people are coming to town for both the soccer game and the PBR event.
“We’re getting a flavour of what pre-pandemic looked like, so everybody is moving forward cautiously (and) slowly, but we’re starting to come back,” said Daniel St. Pierre with Explore Edmonton.
It’s a comeback Brodie is ready and waiting for.
“Looking forward to the next few years and seeing what a return to normalcy brings,” he said.