Edmonton’s hub city bubble deflating after Oilers knocked out; area businesses falling flat

It was a hopeful playoff run for the Edmonton Oilers, a shot at the Stanley cup all while being able to stay in Edmonton.

The NHL bubble brought in great promise for a local economy hit hard by COVID-19.

Read more: Being a hub city may not bring big financial boost to Edmonton: sports economist

“It was always optimistic that this was going to bring benefits to local businesses [but] the greatest fears ended up being played out,” sports economist Moshe Lander said.

The Oilers were knocked out early by Chicago; after that, the Calgary Flames were also eliminated.

“The fact that you’re now watching a Stanley Cup of Tampa and Dallas. With no offence to Tampa and Dallas, it doesn’t resonate in Edmonton,” Lander said.

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“We haven’t really seen much, to be honest with you,” said Scott Krebs with Kelly’s Pub.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s going on two blocks away.”

High hopes from some area businesses fell flat.

“We honestly thought we were going to be a lot busier for the hockey. Obviously, with the Oilers getting knocked out in the first round, that didn’t really help us much,” Krebs said.

Although the bubble didn’t payoff for all area businesses, the Oilers Entertainment Group says money was put into hotels, bus companies, restaurants, golf courses and logistics. That’s millions of dollars that otherwise would not have come to the city.

Lander says although the large scale of money and jobs hoped for wasn’t fully there, it still was a plus for the city.

“Edmonton now has a very strong case to play that going forward, they deserve to be a bubble city because they’ve shown that they know how to do it,” Lander said.

Once the final game is done, the Oilers Entertainment Group says players will fly out the following morning and the bubble will end two days after that final game.

It will also be working with the NHL to prepare post-event reporting so that best practices and protocols developed can be used in future events such as for the upcoming World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.

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