“We have the infrastructure that nobody else has... it’s why Garth Brooks comes to us, it’s why Luke Combs comes to us.”
By Steven Sandor | June 8, 2023
The selling point used to be simple: Edmonton has the largest stadium in the country.
But, after the city got shut out of hosting FIFA World Cup 2026 matches, the city needs to be more proactive about selling what we have — and looking for different sorts of events to fill dates at Commonwealth Stadium.
And that’s why the Elks, Explore Edmonton and the City of Edmonton are now being more aggressive in the global market-place, with the message that the stadium is open to hosting the kinds of events it’s never hosted before. This past winter’s World Cup Big Air snowboarding event, which saw a 15-storey ramp erected inside the stadium, might just be the first of many “new sports” events to come to Commonwealth.
“We have a lot of turnkey things we can deliver to various organizations that make us attractive,” says Elks President and CEO Victor Cui.
And that means looking at sports like ultimate Frisbee, flag football or even a golf shot competition.
“Anything that requires our field of play,” says Cui. “There are some exciting new sport opportunities out there that we can work with.”
Cui says that, now that COVID-19 restrictions are pretty much the stuff of history, there’s pent-up global demand for big events — not just sporting events, but giant stadium concerts and conferences. And, because of that, many major American venues are booked solid right into 2024. That creates opportunities for Commonwealth, as long as the city is willing to sell itself.
“We have the infrastructure that nobody else has,” says Cui. “That’s why, in theory, if someone comes to us, they can make more money than they could anywhere else. It’s why Garth Brooks comes to us, it’s why Luke Combs comes to us.”
But, just like looking to alternate sorts of sporting events, it doesn’t just have to be big country shows or heavy-metal blowouts like the two Metallica dates scheduled for August. Cui says that Edmonton’s demographics are rapidly changing, and there’s no need to limit the entertainment to “Western” acts. He says that Chinese or Indian acts could sell thousands of tickets. It’s time to think globally when it comes to entertainment.
And, on top of non-Western music and alternative sports, the City has to be willing to sell Commonwealth as a convention and gathering place, with office space and facilities to host banquets and the like.
Heck, maybe you’ll be part of a wedding where you only invite 50,000 of your closest friends and family members.
This article appears in the June 2023 issue of Edify