The Flames clinching a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs this past weekend isn’t the only thing getting Calgarians excited, but also the possible revival of the Red Mile on 17th Avenue.
It’s been two long years since the Flames have hit the ice of a playoff game, and even when they did in 2020, the Red Mile antics were nothing but a distant memory due to lockdowns and public health restrictions. But this weekend’s victory means Calgarians can expect to watch their team play for the prize, while celebrating alongside fellow fans in a sea of red once again.
The name “Red Mile” was first given to the stretch of businesses along 17th Ave. S.W. in 2004 during the Flames lengthy Stanley Cup playoff run which resulted in them losing the final to the Tampa Bay Lightening.
The mass of fans, dressed in red to show their support, gained worldwide attention when they flocked by the thousands to the popular downtown location filled with restaurants and bars to celebrate with fellow hockey lovers.
This year, the street is expected to be buzzing once again, especially now that restrictions and capacity limits have been lifted across the province. That’s a welcome notion for business owners and the city’s tourism sector as a whole.
“We know that the Flames going into a playoff run will mean full restaurants and full hotels which is great news for the hospitality and tourism sector,” Tourism Calgary’s senior vice-president of sales Carson Ackroyd said in a statement to Global News on Monday.
“Tourism Calgary works to bring major events to the city on a regular basis which inject millions into the local community. Similarly, each Flames game is the equivalent of a major event; games will be high-excitement and tickets will be in high-demand, attracting many out of town visitors and drawing attention to Calgary as an ultimate destination,” he said.
With continued construction in the area, and ongoing closures due to the pandemic, Steve Marakis, owner of Jamesons Pub on 17th Ave., said news of the Flames making the playoffs is exactly what his business, and many others are needing right now.
“There’s a lot of businesses on the avenue too that have gone through that construction, suffered through all that, and business was hurt over the years,” he said.
“So, this will be a nice revival in a way.”
Ernie Tsu, president of the Alberta Hospitality Association, added this playoff run will give a minimum 20 per cent boost to area businesses, which in turn means more work and jobs in the city.
“If the Flames get past the first round this helps all of the restaurants, not only on 17th but in the Beltline area, secure more hours for all of our staff on all of the game days,” Tsu said.
“This gives us the ability to hire new staff and, again, secure our full-time hours for all of our employees.
“It’s great for all of the local pubs in the suburbs and the city, frankly, to have more positive energy that the Flames are bringing back to our city.”
The Flames advancement to playoffs was solidified on Saturday when the Edmonton Oilers beat the Vegas Knights 4-0, before the Flames went on to beat out the Arizona Coyotes 9-1.
Saturday’s results placed the Flames, 46-20-9 atop the Pacific Division.
Calgary has seven games remaining in their regular season, including two at home.
The playoffs are set to begin on May 2.