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Battle of Alberta increases foot traffic at Airdrie sports bars

With the Battle of Alberta occurring in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1991, Airdrie residents are flooding to their local sports bar to cheer on their favourite team.

The Battle of Alberta NHL playoff series, the first of its kind since 1991, has increased foot traffic at local Airdrie sports bars, resulting in an upturn in revenue. 

The last time the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers met in the Stanley Cup playoffs had fans follow an intense series that lasted to the bitter end. With a tied series, the game seven of the division semifinals was a goalless game until the Oilers scored nearly seven minutes into overtime, resulting in Edmonton claiming that series victory and moving on to the next round of the playoffs. 

On Tuesday, May 24, the Oilers hosted the Flames for the fourth game of the division final series, taking a 3-1 lead in the series thanks to a 5-3 victory on home ice.

Many Airdrie sports bars are experiencing a boost in local guests and revenue, especially with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. This is the first NHL playoff season in two years that fans have been able to get out and cheer on their team without wearing a mask or having to socially distance. 

General manager of the Toad ‘n Turtle Pubhouse and Grill, Tabatha Brookshaw, said the Battle of Alberta has had a positive impact on her bar's bottom line. 

The hockey games have caused an increase in the number of local residents visiting the Toad ‘n Turtle as well as creating an increase in the bar's revenue, according to Brookshaw.

“We are certainly having a lot of people show up specifically to watch the games so it’s definitely boosting some sales, definitely on [typically] slower days,” Brookshaw said. 

Agreeing with Brookshaw, Main Street Beer and BBQ general manager Graeme Beal said his downtown Airdrie bar is experiencing an upturn in customer volume on Battle of Alberta game days, even on days of the week that are traditionally slower.

"When you can fill the place, on those days when we're normally not busy, it does have a huge impact on us," Beal said. "We normally have a couple of servers on, but now we have five or six."

Having more servers on at a time has a profound impact on the local economy. As more customers visit the bars during Battle of Alberta games, more servers are working and are earning hourly wages. The servers are then able to invest directly in the economy by supporting other local Airdrie businesses. 

"The [impact] has been huge," Beal said, regarding how the games have affected the Main Street restaurant. 

Sporting two 100 square foot TVs, Beal added his restaurant usually sees lineups during game days and he recommends people try to score a table early.

According to Beal, being in Airdrie means having a mix of Edmonton Oilers fans and Calgary Flames fans, which is also helping with turnout. 

A self-proclaimed Flames fan, Beal's just happy to see the community coming out to watch the games, regardless which team they are cheering for. 




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