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This article was published 28/5/2015 (2181 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Soccer fans looking forward to some high-scoring games when the FIFA Women’s World Cup starts next month in Winnipeg could be shut out if they don’t have a hotel room booked already.
Hotels across the city started booking up the minute it was announced last year Winnipeg would be one of the host cities for the tournament. Seven games will be played at Investors Group Field between June 8 and June 16.
Paul Robson, CEO of Canad Inns, said he’s happy to rent out rooms to soccer fans — as long as they don’t mind commuting from Portage la Prairie, Brandon or Grand Forks.
"We have rooms in our hotels there. We’re sold out in Winnipeg," he said.
Entire soccer teams and people from regional soccer associations from Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Virginia, as well as members of the international media and the Swedish Football Association have all booked rooms in Canad Inns’ 10 Winnipeg properties.
"It’s an amazing event. I don’t know if somebody is going to do an economic impact study on FIFA but it would be interesting. It has certainly had a tremendous impact on the accommodation sector," Robson said.
Ben Sparrow, CEO of Sparrow Hotels, would no doubt agree.
"I’ve been getting phone calls from long-lost relatives who want to see if I have a room for them. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely nothing," he said.
Sparrow Hotels owns a trio of properties in Winnipeg — the Inn at The Forks, the Norwood Hotel and the Mere hotel.
June is a busy month in Winnipeg even without an international sporting event on the calendar, with various associations hosting conventions, increased business travel before the summer hits as well as the beginning of the summer leisure travel.
Robson, who has spent much of his career working in the sports business, including stints as the general manager of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and a member of the host committee of the 1999 Pan Am Games, said the FIFA Women’s World Cup is easily one of the biggest sporting events to ever hit Winnipeg.
"This is an international event. We’re seeing long-haul travellers coming to Winnipeg, which we’re all keen to have. They’re high-value travellers," he said.
Jim Baker, president and CEO of the Manitoba Hotel Association, said he knows of soccer fans booking hotel rooms as far away as Morden, Steinbach, Selkirk and Portage.
He said there are a smattering of rooms still available in Winnipeg but if you’re looking downtown or with one of the most popular banners, you’re out of luck.
"The heavy bookings we’re seeing are like for the Grey Cup, only longer," he said.
There may be one slim glimmer of hope, though. Sparrow said with so many hotel bookings taking place online, soccer fans may be able to find a room or two by looking at properties that don’t have a significant Internet presence.
"I would look in the Yellow Pages to see if they have any rooms. I’d recommend getting on a waiting list, too. There are always cancellations," he said.
In some cases, people may be able to double up in rooms, too.
"We’re having two people who were going to have their own rooms doubling up in one king room and getting a cot. We’re running out of cots, though," he said.