By: Rahim Demolitor
The return of the Canadian Interuniversity basketball tournament was successful.
“The buzz was very good this year. Fans locally and from across the country were excited that the event was back in Halifax,” said Phil Currie, the Executive Director of Atlantic University Sport.
Despite a larger population, the Ottawa site didn’t produce the same level of fan interest.
“It is certainly a bigger deal in Halifax. The nature of the city and the venue’s proximity to hotels, restaurants, and entertainment makes it a unique experience. We also put a considerable amount of effort into the fan experience in Halifax where the Ottawa group does not. I am not saying we are better, just different in our approach,” said Currie.
Ticket sales were lowered than expected. Currie said the tournament’s hiatus could explain that.
“Ticket sales were down a bit but we anticipated this based on being out of the market for three years,” said Currie. “Despite being on the heels of the Canada Games and not getting a local team through to Saturday’s games (second round) or beyond, we were still very happy with the turn out.”
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|Canadian University Press|
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The tournament provided a boost in tourism for the city as fans from across Canada came to Halifax to support their university teams.
“We certainly had a large contingent of sport tourists and the host hotel was sold out. There were hundreds of Carleton supporters and close to 100 Saskatchewan fans alone,” said Currie.
While the official numbers regarding the tournament’s profit are yet to be determined, Currie acknowledged they should be close if not on par with previous years.
“We did an economic assessment of the event in 2004 and that showed us that the events brings in $8.5 million in direct benefit if the attendance is in the 30,000 plus range.”
After next year, the Final Eight Championships will move back to Ottawa for the 2013-2014 season. However, with Halifax’s strong history as hosts, organizers feel it will only be a matter of time until the tournament is back again.