On December 26, the best young hockey players in the world will face off in the World Junior Championship. Even though the tournament is still a week away, the economic impact is already starting to be felt here in Buffalo.
The core group of teams and officials are expected to funnel $7 million into the economy during the 11-day tournament. Several downtown hotels are getting fully booked for tournament days, something that is rarely seen at this time of year.
"There has to be something major happening in the area during that time span, such as making it to a playoff game or a convention in order to bring business into downtown Buffalo," explained Wendy Clubine. She's the director of the Buffalo market area sales for Buffalo Lodging Associates.
Buffalo Lodging owns Courtyard Marriott near Canalside and Hampton Inn and Suites on Delaware Avenue.
Hotels in Buffalo rely heavily on corporate travel, which typically slows down near the holidays, according to Clubine. On a normal night between Christmas and New Year's Day, those hotels might only have guests in 30 to 40 percent of its rooms.
With the World Juniors fast approaching, the Courtyard Marriott is fully booked for seven of those nights.
The Buffalo Marriott Harborcenter is completely booked for the entire tournament and many other hotels downtown are seeing rooms quickly fill up.
"I think the timing is just spectacular," Mark Brown, a regional director of sales and marketing for Buffalo Lodging, said. "It's a traditionally really low occupancy time period."
Patrick Kaler, president of Visit Buffalo Niagara, says the World Juniors is a huge opportunity for the city to be seen by people from all over the world.
"It does prove that we are a destination of the caliber to host these types of events," he said.