Hockey, curling make Las Vegas more than a gambling mecca for Canadians

LAS VEGAS — A warm getaway destination that offers live winter sports, Las Vegas now fits that bill for Western Canadians.

Sin City’s desert climate combined with a new NHL team currently in the Stanley Cup final and regular world curling events just a short flight away are increasing traffic from Canada’s most western provinces.

Canadians may love going to the arena to watch hockey and curling, but they don’t necessarily love shovelling a path to the car and scraping the windshield to get there.

Hanging at the pool pre-game and going to the arena in shorts, or catching a Cirque du Soleil show and hitting the blackjack tables after? Canadians can get behind that during the dog days of winter.

“We saw incredible crowds travel from Western Canada all throughout the season,” Vegas Golden Knights chief marketing officer Brian Killingsworth said.

“What we’ve noticed in Western Canada, but even across all other hockey markets, teams circle this date, the Las Vegas date, as the destination trip. That’s the game they want to travel to with their fan base, their fan groups, their sponsors.

“We had probably some of the best representation of visiting team fans coming from the Western Canadian teams. As an aside, it was some of our best-performing 50-50 raffles. It was significant.”

An average of 1.44 million Canadians travel to Las Vegas annually which is the most from any country, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton account for 54 per cent of Canada’s direct air passengers to Vegas, according to the LVCVA, because of geographical proximity and several daily non-stop flights from those cities.

They were already going to Las Vegas for the gambling, shows and warmer weather. The arrival of ice sports add to the inducements to go.

“Western Canada is just vital for Las Vegas,” said Lisa Motley, LVCVA’s director of sports marketing and special events.

“While I’d like to tell you we programmed our winter sports around the Canadian market coming to visit, it’s just kind of more of a bonus for us.”

Curlers and fans were tanning at The Orleans pool between draws during the men’s world curling championship in April, while Calgary was slammed with snow the same week.

World championship event manager Jon Killoran said 75 to 80 per cent of tickets were sold to Canadians.

The World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling — a Ryder-Cup-style event featuring the world’s best curlers — will be held at the Orleans Arena for the fourth time in six years in January, 2019.

“It’s been extremely important to have the Canadian fan embrace curling in Las Vegas as they have from the very start back in 2014 with the first Continental Cup,” Killoran said.

“The Canadian fan is the dominant reason that curling is succeeding here in Las Vegas.

“If people can come for the curling and can squeeze in a game with the Golden Knights at the same time, on that same trip, I think that becomes very attractive to a Canadian sports fan.”

An NFL team arriving in Las Vegas in 2020 will be yet another draw for Canadians, particularly in frosty December and January when the CFL is dormant. There are rumblings Las Vegas is also due for an NBA team.

“It’s a true destination city,” Killingsworth said. “We’ll always have that calling card.

“What I think is interesting now is it’s turning into a sports and entertainment market. Not just an entertainment market.”

If you go …

Vegas Golden Knights – www.nhl.com/goldenknights

2019 World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling, Jan. 17-20 – www.curling.ca/tickets

Just Posted

Alberta government to partially backstop new $2 billion dollar bitumen upgrader

CALGARY — The Alberta government is providing a $440 million loan guarantee… Continue reading

Local artists are in the running for Alberta Country Music Awards, held Sunday in Red Deer

Tickets are available to the ceremony at the Sheraton hotel

RCMP seeking suspect in school bus collision and car jacking

Two children suffered minor injuries in collision on Tuesday near Springbrook around 8 a.m.

Smaller, more affordable, lots wanted in Red Deer’s Evergreen neighbourhood

Council approves first reading of requested lot-size changes

Political shifts, sales slump cast shadow over gun industry

When gunmakers and dealers gather this week in Las Vegas for the… Continue reading

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps may need to stock up on maple… Continue reading

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

Rugby Canada Hall of Fame a family affair for hard-nosed forward Hans de Goede

Hans de Goede, a hard-nosed lock forward who captained Canada at the… Continue reading

5 burning questions ahead of the Oscar nominations

NEW YORK — The Oscars still don’t have a host, but on… Continue reading

‘Bao,’ ‘Animal Behaviour,’ ‘Weekends’ among Canadian Oscar nominees

LOS ANGELES — Several Canadians have landed Oscar nominations. The category for… Continue reading

Hollywood announces 2019 Oscar nominations

Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought

Opinion: Faith in immigration must be preserved

Canada has a deserved reputation for extending its arms to newcomers, but… Continue reading

Most Read