Whiteout parties give a business boost to downtown Winnipeg

Click to play video: 'Economic Development Winnipeg on whiteout parties’ effect on downtown'
Economic Development Winnipeg on whiteout parties’ effect on downtown
Karen Viveiros of Economic Development Winnipeg says the community support around the Jets raises the city's profile – Apr 24, 2023

If you’re commuting on Monday, you may want to avoid certain parts of downtown Winnipeg.

With the Jets taking on the Vegas Golden Knights at Canada Life Centre for Game 4 of their first-round playoff series, hockey fans will be out in full force once again, which means road closures.

The city said Monday that southbound Donald Street between Ellice Avenue and St. Mary Avenue is closed for the whiteout street party, reopening at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

East and westbound Graham Avenue between Hargrave Street and Smith Street will also be shutting down, but not until 5:30 p.m., while the Millennium Library is shutting its doors at 5 p.m. to make way for the festivities.

Winnipeg Transit buses will also be re-routed Monday afternoon.

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Despite the Jets’ heartbreaking double-overtime loss on Saturday, the first whiteout party of 2023 is being touted as a big success for the area’s business community.

Kate Fenske of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ told 680 CJOB’s The Start that having so many hockey fans out and about downtown has done wonders toward restoring community pride.

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“For businesses, I know they were so excited. I was walking around before the game on Saturday, just checking in … already busy, even pre-game, and they were so excited to show what downtown is,” Fenske said.

“We’re still here, we’re still ready to welcome people back, and it’s just a really exciting day.”

According to Fenske, many downtown businesses saw 50 to 60 per cent more customers who were there to celebrate Game 3 of the Jets’ playoffs, when compared to an average Saturday.

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“That’s just one day, so we know it makes a huge difference every single game in these playoffs,” she said.

“It’s going to be a little bit tougher tonight, on a Monday with an 8:30 puck-drop, I think, but some businesses are shifting their hours just to give Winnipeggers a place to watch the game and come together.”

That doesn’t mean that all of downtown’s problems have been solved by a Jets game or two, but it’s momentum Fenske said she hopes will continue even after the playoffs are over.

“In the first quarter of this year, six new businesses opened downtown, … but we are still seeing some more closures, so it shows that downtown still really needs the support, and the playoffs like this, the whiteout parties — it really helps give us that boost we’ve needed.”

Click to play video: 'Jets fans flood Winnipeg’s Donald Street in a sea of white for epic whiteout street party'
Jets fans flood Winnipeg’s Donald Street in a sea of white for epic whiteout street party

Karen Viveiros of Economic Development Winnipeg told Global News the fanfare surrounding the Jets’ playoff push helps to raise the profile of the city as a whole, not just downtown.

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“The goal is to show to the world what Winnipeg can do when we get together,” Viveiros said.

“We’re celebrating our team, we’re celebrating our city, we’re celebrating our community, and it really has an impact.”

That impact, she said, includes direct spending on hotel stays, food trucks, area businesses, the ticket price to get into the street parties, as well as indirect investments back into the community.

“Winnipeg can do great things like this, and it really shows our city as a cosmopolitan, leading city where people want to live, want to invest and want to come and play.”

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg Jets playoff excitement'
Winnipeg Jets playoff excitement

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