Hockey fans flocked to downtown Denver late Wednesday afternoon and the city seemed to be in turmoil as cup frenzy gripped the Mile High City for the first time in 21 years.
Crowds began gathering after 4 p.m. near the Ball Arena, site of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Bars, restaurants and sportswear stores especially enjoyed the fans when the puck fell.
Downtown bars and restaurants began preparations as soon as the Avalanche passed the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Finals last week.
Dave Keefe, owner of Brooklyn’s at Ball Arena, said the sports bar added staff members to prepare for the series and staff members looked forward to every game.
“For us, we live and die by what happens at Ball Arena – so summer is usually the slowest quarter of the year for us,” Keefe said. “Having hockey in the summer almost until July is huge.”
Research has shown that cities that host the Stanley Cup see between $4 million and $8 million in economic impact per game, said Chelsea Rosty, chief of staff for Denver Economic Development & Opportunity.
“This research dates back to 2019, when the world was open and people frequented bars and restaurants,” she said. “We don’t know what the impact will be on Denver, but we hope it will be more. Either way, it will be a big impact for the city.”
Thousands of fans are expected to congregate at Denver Metro watch parties, including the Colorado Avalanche Pepsi Zero watch parties at the Tivoli Quad on the Auraria campus.
Tivoli Brewing Company is co-hosting the event and is one of three establishments that received extensive liquor service during each game.
Denver Excise and Licensing waived the 30-day notice requirement for bars and restaurants to request extended service areas — such as patios, grassy areas or parking lots.
Besides Tivoli, Ball Arena and McGregor Square also received expanded liquor service, said Eric Escudero, spokesman for the Excise and Licensing Department.
“With the Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup and recognizing that many bars and restaurants have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, we have been looking at all ways to help these businesses continue to recover and make up for any losses. revenue,” Escudero said. “Stanley Cup Finals watch parties are generating a lot of interest, and it’s a golden opportunity for some bars and restaurants.”
Ari Opsahl, CEO of Tivoli Brewing Company, said 10,000 people are expected to attend the first watch party, which is expected to bring in significantly more revenue than a typical Wednesday.
“We couldn’t be more excited,” Opsahl said. “It means more than ever.”
While many fans will be carrying open beers and beverages into approved areas, the Denver Police Department does not anticipate any additional issues caused by the expanded service.
“The Denver Police Department has no enforcement issues regarding these permits, as applicants must always follow applicable laws/ordinances,” Doug Schepman, a police spokesperson, wrote in a statement to The Denver Gazette. “Our message to everyone is to have fun supporting the Avalanche, to avoid overindulging if you consume alcohol, and to plan for a safe and sober ride home.”
Stanley Cup festivities will extend to the suburbs, with the Lone Tree Brewing Company hosting a watch party for each game.
Mike Webster, the brewery’s tasting room manager, said he thought Avalanche’s success could bring more people out of their homes and feel “pre-pandemic”.
“The pandemic has affected everyone, but hopefully more people will come in and enjoy being back,” Webster said.
Clothing stores are also reaping the benefits of the Avalanche’s long playoff streak.
“Business has been strong in all of our locations,” said Derek Friedman, owner of Sportsfan stores at 16th Street Mall, Federal Boulevard and Park Meadows Shopping Center. “We are pretty well stocked.”
Unless you’re looking for a Cale Makar #8 jersey, these have been hard to find for weeks.
Friedman said they sold out the official jerseys weeks ago, so they’re using blank jerseys and assembly kits with licensed material.
When the Avalanche defeated Edmonton, clothing stores were able to quickly turn out Western Conference champion shirts and hats – and so will if the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup. This is called a “hot market” in retail.
“We have a license for the finished product and have ordered two shirts from local printers,” Friedman said. “In this case, it’s a win-win scenario. When the Avalanche won the West and qualified for the Stanley Cup Final, we gave the green light to this local printer. … Let’s just say the people of New York were sad while the people of Denver were happy.
If the Avs lose, those Stanley Cup championship jerseys will end up in South America, he said.
“It happened with the Broncos. They lost (Super Bowl 48), but two years later the Broncos won. We got to see both sides.
“We sold a ton of shirts and hats – whatever people could find. When the Avs win, it will be exactly the same.
Friedman said if there was a parade, his downtown stores would benefit greatly.
“It’s definitely a huge shot in the arm,” he said. “That’s definitely a prayer we all have. When the Avs win, we’ll all be a little bit more excited and happier. We have a big employee bonus tied to that if that happens, so they’ll be happy as well.