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'Sort of like Christmas': Junos fever surrounds downtown Edmonton

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Edmonton's downtown community is excited to host the best Canadian music this week during the Junos celebrations, with an expected economic boost of $12 million to the region.

This upcoming weekend is packed with events paving the way for the Juno Award ceremony on Monday at Rogers Place.

Ernie Tsu, the Alberta Hospitality Association president, says hotels and restaurants have been filling up, bringing much-needed business to the sector beleaguered by the COVID-19 pandemic and now rising inflation.

"Any kind of major concert or event that brings people out into the restaurant or your local bar or pub is great," Tsu told CTV News Edmonton.

"Any type of revenue for the city centre is great," he added. "It's unbelievable to get live music back in full track and season."

The president of the Juno Award and Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says host cities receive a direct $12 million economic impact on average — with last year's in Toronto creating a $15 million ripple.

"There are literally thousands of people coming descending across Canada into this city," said Allan Reid. "We bring a national spotlight."

That helps showcase the local music scene alongside eateries, hotels, event spaces, and attractions, Reid added.

"We've been absolutely thrilled with the response that we've had this year," Reid said.

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi says he's excited to attend the Juno Awards ceremony and has enjoyed taking in some of the Road to the Junos series.

"This really celebrates our arts and culture scene," Sohi said. "Really promotes our artists, our venues and really highlights what Edmonton has to offer to the world because we are known as a city of festivals.

"A city that really takes to our heart the importance of arts and culture and how integral it is for building welcoming places," he added. "There's so much we can highlight through this captured audience that we will have through the Junos."

Posters advertising the Juno Awards are hung in City Centre Mall on Monday, March 6, 2023 (CTV News Edmonton/Evan Klippenstein).

Hundreds of tickets have already been sold, with some for Monday's award show still available. The Downtown Business Association has been drumming up excitement and offering support to hotels welcoming visitors.

"This is bringing thousands and thousands of people down," said Puneeta McBryan, Downtown Business Association's president. "They are going out to eat, they are going to shows."

"It's sort of like Christmas around here right now, just with all the parties and dining. People getting out and spending money in the community is just huge for downtown."

McBryan says music and live events make up a huge part of Edmonton's identity, and having the Junos here offers an unparalleled opportunity to cement the provincial capital as a leader in event hosting.

"It really is an opportunity for us to show off our city, for us to show off Rogers Place, for Canadians across the country who maybe haven't been to Edmonton in five, 10 years to see how much our downtown has changed and what we have to offer," she added.

"There's a reason that our city has been putting in a bid to host the Junos again for a few years now." 

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