St. Catharines businesses benefit from the Canada Games

Josh Boycott, owner of Ludology in downtown St. Catharines, hosts the Maple Peach Cocktail Party, the board game café created in honor of the Canada Games.

The Niagara 2022 Canada Games are over and local businesses are considering the events.

The Games ran from August 6-21 and brought young athletes from across the country to the region to compete in a variety of sports, from swimming to cycling to volleyball and more.

Over 50,000 athletes, coaches, support staff, etc. came to the area.

Josh Boycott, owner of the Ludology board game cafe in downtown St. Catharines, knew the Games were happening and was thrilled to be there for them.

The restaurant on St. Paul Street even created its own drink in honor of the Games, a Maple Peach cocktail, made in partnership with Niagara Falls Craft Distillers.

The restaurant was controlling additional crowds before and after nearby events, but on August 10, Boycott forgot to check the schedule.

He said his regular bartender was on vacation and he thought he could run the bar on his own.

Unbeknownst to him, several basketball games were taking place that day just down the street at the Meridian Center.

“I was killed,” he said with a smile, explaining that many onlookers stopped before and after to grab a bite to eat and play games.

Ludology isn’t the only downtown restaurant to see a spike in business thanks to the Games.

Erik Dickson, co-owner of the Trust Beer Bar at 3 Garden Park, said when basketball games were played last week and a half, they served a lot of people from across the country wearing their Nova Scotia team gear. Scotland, New Brunswick, and Alberta.

“Obviously they wouldn’t have been here at all otherwise,” he said. “It definitely exposed the business to new people, even if they were only visiting for that reason.”

Score Pizza, also on St. Paul Street, created the Sour Toe Challenge for the evening of the 13 For 13 St. Catharines cultural festival, which celebrated the Yukon.

The drink was a lemonade with a foot-shaped gumball inside, paying homage to the Sour Toe Cocktail in the Yukon, which features an actual dehydrated human toe.

Owner Stuart Hillman said the night of the 13 For 13 event was what he expected.

“It was really good for downtown to have all these people here,” he said, adding that Score Pizza hopes to get involved in all kinds of events happening downtown.

The Games drew members of the Niagara community, but Rachel Braithwaite, executive director of the St. Catharines Downtown Association, said having visitors from across Canada was a great experience for businesses.

“Many of these out-of-town visitors provided wonderful feedback on how they really enjoyed St. Catharines,” she said.

Brian York, director of economic development for St. Catharines, said the Games provided a welcome economic boost to the entire region.

“Given the investment in approved infrastructure, including new construction – the Canada Games Park and the Neil Campbell Rowing Centre, the Niagara 2022 Host Society estimates a regional economic impact of $400 million dollars,” he said.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: As the Niagara 2022 Canada Games draw to a close, reporter Abby Green wanted to speak with local businesses and find out if the increased number of people in the area has boosted their sales.

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