The Toronto Blue Jays packed the Rogers Centre throughout August, September and October. Much has been made of the significant boost in profits that Rogers ownership will be seeing, and what level of influence that will hold over the 2016 payroll. What’s fascinated me, however, is the economic impact of the Blue Jays playoff run had outside the world of baseball.
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Maryam Shah of the Toronto Sun reports that bars surrounding the Rogers Centre saw their profits jump 32% during the American League Division Series comapred to the same timeframe in 2014, while restaurants in the area saw a jump of 30%.
“We were selling between 35 and 40 kegs of beer a day,” said Sarah Mills, general manager of Real Sports Bar and Grill. “And then the other trend that we saw was our wings and nachos skyrocketed. We were selling on a Jays game day twice as much of both of those as we were on a regular day. Anywhere between 150 to 175 pounds of wings a game.”
Merchandise sales also shot through the roof, both licensed and not-so-licensed, with the Blue Jays Shop and several chain retailers struggling to keep up with customer demand for hats, shirts and jerseys. If you’ve ever stepped in to one of these shops, you know those things aren’t cheap.
Since the Miami Marlins and R.A. Dickey deals that established the Blue Jays as a World Series favourite, at the time, there’s been a resurgence around the brand of baseball in Toronto. This rings especially true with the younger demographic of fans, let’s call it the 18-to-35 consumer group, that represent the new “generation” of Jays fans. The Jays logo, much like the classic Yankees hat, is a fashion trend. No longer just something one wears to the stadium.
We can stretch the economic impact across the country, too, though it would take a finer mind than mine to put a dollar value on Toronto’s late-season surge. Big bars and small pubs from Vancouver to Halifax were filled to capacity on weekday nights in October, something that wouldn’t be happening without the Blue Jays on their TVs. Even during the ALDS, ordering in a pizza in Toronto was a different animal. “Every night the Blue Jays play we need to bring in another driver,” I was told. And that is fantastic!
The Halifax pub and local pizza joint do not matter to Rogers, but for the staff, managers, owners and everyone in between, the Jays helped to produce some found money. This is indicative of the Blue Jays becoming more deeply engrained in the Canadian culture, and the benefits of their success are stretching well past the business suits.
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