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John Reid a boon for local businesses

Tournament draws thousands to city, stimulating hospitality industry.
Bronco Cameron Jacobson and Bandit Jake Evans battle for the puck during a game between the Humbolt Broncos (in green) and Saskatoon Bandits (in white) in the John Reid Memorial AAA Hockey Tournament at Servus Place in St Albert on Saturday Jan 21, 2023.(JOHN LUCAS/St Albert Gazette)

After a long weekend of competition between some of North America’s most elite U15 AAA teams, it’s clear that the impact of the John Reid Memorial Tournament rippled out far beyond the rink. The event has always been planned with an eye for involving the community at large, but perhaps no institutions feel the impact of the tournament more directly than local businesses — especially those in the hospitality industry.

This year’s tournament attracted 15 teams, their families, and thousands of spectators to the city from Thursday to Sunday. And just as skates needed sharpening and rinks needed flooding, all of those people needed somewhere to stay and somewhere to eat.

“We have been working with the John Reid Tournament for years now,” said Chanisse Dutchin-Kot, general manager at the Best Western Inn at St. Albert, relieved that accommodations could be made normally after a long period of pandemic precautions. 

“Last year was a bit different due to the restrictions we were under as a province. This year was our first year since 2020 where we were operating with no restrictions. It was refreshing to be busy again. We love hosting teams, and we always sponsor in some sort of way as we love giving back to our local community organizations.”

As Dutchin-Kot notes, returning teams make for familiar faces at check-in time.

“We have had the same teams stay with us year after year, and they are always so great to have. From the players to the coaches to the parents, they’re all very respectful of our hotel team. We look forward to the John Reid Tournament each year.”

And whenever a tournament as large as the John Reid takes place, a bump in sales at nearby restaurants is nearly inevitable.

“We did notice an uptick in sales over the weekend,” said Kyle Iseke of Links Woodfire Sausage Company, a gourmet meat spot nestled next to Servus in Campbell Business Park.

Even establishments further away from the venue saw an increase in activity over the course of the tournament — both from hungry athletes, and from parents looking for time to unwind throughout an intense, action-packed itinerary.

“The John Reid gave us a chance to showcase our restaurants to many new guests that were in the tournament,” said Canadian Brewhouse regional manager Pat Kehdy. “We hosted a great tournament social on Friday at our Jensen Lakes location where we have duckpin bowling. And some of the teams reached out directly to have us prepare pre-ordered meals.”

Kehdy insists that an event like the John Reid serves as the perfect occasion to attract business while also contributing to an important cause and fostering a sense of community.

“One of our core values is ‘Support Your Community’, so supporting the John Reid Memorial Tournament was a no-brainer.”

“We love our guests and are always looking to make new friends. From Abbotsford to St. Albert to London, Ontario, we always say, "Our house is your house!"