Senators attract $100M in annual spending to Ottawa economy: U of O study

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Mark Brownlee
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A new University of Ottawa study has found that the company that runs the capital’s NHL team helps bring millions of dollars in tourism spending to the region every year.

Norm O'Reilly (left) is the author of the report on the Ottawa Senators' impact on the local economy.

The study, which was released on Monday, is the most comprehensive answer yet to the question of how much money Senators Sports and Entertainment brings to the city that wouldn’t otherwise be spent here.

In total, the report found that the Senators are responsible for bringing in $100 million to the local economy each year.

That stems from people taking part in events such as hockey games or concerts at the Canadian Tire Centre, amateur hockey tournaments like the Bell Capital Cup or major sporting events such as the NHL All-Star game that took place in 2012.

The study found that a significant number of tourists visit the city primarily to take part in an event the Senators spearhead.

This includes 118,000 people who visit the region each year for the sole purpose of taking in an NHL regular season or playoff game.

Those visitors, who the study said stayed for an average of 1.7 days and spent about $530 each, resulted in more than $60 million in direct spending in Ottawa because of regular season and playoff games.

Other events the team organizes played a key role as well. Non-local visitors who took part in the Bell Capital Cup or who visited for an event at the Sensplex in the west end resulted in about $10 million in direct spending.

Major events, such as the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships in 2013, resulted in $4.3 billion in direct spending.

The study also looked at intangible benefits the team helped create. This involved examining non-financial benefits, such as how the Senators contribute to the city’s branding.

Included among these was a finding that 87 per cent of tourists said they visited the city only to take part in a major event such as the NHL All-Star Game.

“What really surprised me and our team was the power of the intangible stuff...of different really positive things that this organization does in the city, whether it’s pride, attachment, potential tourism in the future, (or) willingness to move here,” said Norm O’Reilly, the lead researcher on the project from the University of Ottawa, during a speech to Ottawa Chamber of Commerce members.

Indirect benefits, which involve examining peripheral areas such as the amount of tax dollars that result from additional activity, were also examined. Including those brought the total economic activity to $204 million.

Mr. O’Reilly said that research for the project was done by looking at the Senators’ financial information and by conducting surveys, focus groups and interviews along with other secondary research.

He also pointed out that the Senators did not fund the research project.

Senators President Cyril Leeder said the results of the study did not surprise him.

“It’s great today to have a report from Norm that really puts some empirical evidence and some hard facts to what I think we all knew and we all suspected: hockey is important to us as Canadians and to us as Ottawans,” he said.

Organizations: NHL, Canadian Tire Centre, IIHF Women University of Ottawa Ottawa Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: Ottawa

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