Study indicates 108th Grey Cup generated almost $35 million economic impact in Ontario

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

The 108th Grey Cup in Hamilton and its accompanying festival generated an economic impact of almost $35 million, according to a study conducted by Sport Tourism Canada (STC) and commissioned by the CFL.

The study indicated that $22.4 million was spent by event organizers and out-of-town participants such as staff, spectators, and members of the media. This contributed to a total of $34.8 million in overall economic activity in Ontario, including over $29.8 million in the Hamilton area.

The expenditures supported 233 jobs and $12.3 million in wages and salaries in the province, of which 206 jobs and $10.3 million were supported locally.

“Once again the economic impact study of the 2021 Grey Cup Festival demonstrated the financial impacts of hosting sport events to the local, provincial and Canadian economy,” said Sport Tourism Canada CCO Grant MacDonald in a statement.

“The results that the CFL and the host city of Hamilton were able to deliver, between waves of the pandemic, highlight the safety protocols contributed to customer confidence to attend and the significant financial results of Grey Cup Festival. This is another indication that the sport tourism sector is an integral contributor to the recovery and future growth of the tourism industry and our economy.”

The week featured a modified Grey Cup Festival, as the vast majority of indoor events, including almost all of the parties and concerts that would normally attract large crowds, were cancelled or adjusted due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

The game at Tim Hortons Field was sold out as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in overtime by a score of 33-25. The Grey Cup is scheduled to return to Hamilton in 2023 after being played in Regina this November.

“I prefer to think of it as our Comeback Grey Cup instead of a COVID Grey Cup, but there is no disputing its smaller footprint. That’s what makes these economic impact numbers so remarkable,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

“They speak to the power of the Grey Cup, even in challenging times. And they bode well for the complete 109th Grey Cup game and festival we have planned for Saskatchewan this November, and our return to Hamilton for the 110th Grey Cup in 2023, when we will deliver the full Grey Cup experience the city deserves.”

The study found last year’s Grey Cup in Hamilton attracted 18,190 out-of-town visitors, generating $14.6 million in visitor spending, representing an $18.2 million boost to the provincial GDP.

“The Hamilton Tiger-Cats organization, in partnership with the province of Ontario, the city of Hamilton and our corporate partners, would like to applaud fans from across TigerTown and the larger CFL community for joining us in Hamilton and making these incredible economic impacts possible,” said Scott Mitchell, the chief executive officer and managing partner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats/Hamilton Sports Group.

“We look forward to 2023 when the Grey Cup game and festival return to our great city and province, when we will deliver a full-scale festival of events all week, and an enhanced and expanded Tim Hortons Field on Championship Sunday.”

The study was commissioned by the CFL with STC’s economic impact team managing the survey and data collection process. The team used the STEAMPRO economic impact assessment (EIA) model to produce a detailed report with the EIA in terms of total output, GDP, wages and salaries, employment and taxes.

STC partnered with the Canadian Tourism Research Institute and the Conference Board of Canada to develop its methodology, which is based on the most current input-output tables and multipliers from Statistics Canada.

In this case, the study included a survey of 733 attendees who answered questions about their spending. Given the unique circumstances surrounding the 2021 Grey Cup, they were also asked how safe they felt attending Grey Cup festivities, with 97.5 per cent reporting they felt very safe or somewhat safe.

The full report is available on the Sport Tourism Canada website.