The Greatest Outdoor Show... (or Slow down) on Earth
The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is back and when the Calgary Stampede begins July 7, it’s also the greatest party in town. The city’s 10-day binge of: eating, drinking, entertainment, socializing and of course rodeo-ing; gives the economy a much needed boost.
Calgary Stampede would cease to exist without the millions of dollars donated by the energy industry…. Would you be able to recognize the Calgary Stampede without corporate sponsorship coming from the energy sector?
Stampede Park welcomes a million people each year, whether they are tourists from far-far-away or locals, everyone REALLY gets into the Stampede spirit. Some past estimates indicate as much as $300 million in economic activity is generated from the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth as people spend money in hotels, restaurants and local businesses.
Back in the good ol’ days, when oil prices were in the $100 per barrel range, companies in Calgary, who live and die on the price of that commodity, held lavish Stampede parties. There seemed to be no limit on the expense companies would shell out to keep people happy and entertained. That spending made its way through the economy to other businesses and the people who work there, like: many students, nurses, parents, teachers, sales associates and other individuals in the hospitality industry who rely on stampede for a second source of income.
But the reality has taken a dramatic turn on the bumpy chuck wagon of oil prices. Calgary experienced two years of a recession between 2015 and 2016.
"Stampede parties are not like they used to be three, five years ago.... As soon as the price of oil drops, our phones stop ringing." says Paul Vickers, owner of the managing company of Cowboys Dance Hall.
Although the economy has started to put its cowboy boots back on for this year’s stampede, it remains a slow recovery. Thousands of jobs have been shed. The price of oil these days seems mired in the $45 range.
“The perception is rough. Companies are still laying people off and it’s tough to be inviting the employees that are left, suppliers and families to come out and celebrate the Stampede when the economy has taken such a shift.” says Howard Silver, general manager of the Metropolitan Conference Centre in downtown Calgary, which frequently hosts Stampede events.
Silver says business this year for the Metropolitan centre is down approximately 25 per cent… Now imagine how much money that translates into across the city when multiplied by hundreds of other venues that typically host Stampede parties.
The energy and morale brought to the city during the greatest show on earth is infectious, but without this same enthusiasm towards Canada’s energy industry does the Stampede spirit risk getting bucked off the bull when oil prices fall?? Who else is affected when corporate parties take a hit?