The Economic Impact of Major Sporting Events in Canada

When planned and operated responsibly, mega sports tournaments serve as valuable investments for Canada that can leave lasting social and financial legacies.

Major sporting events have a significant impact on the Canadian economy. From the Olympics to national championships, these events generate revenue, attract tourism, and boost local pride. While costs are high to host, the long-term benefits outweigh the expense for many communities. Let’s explore some of the ways sporting events stimulate economic activity across the country.

Tourism and Visitor Spending

One of the primary economic impacts of major events is increased tourism. Sporting events draw both domestic and international visitors who require accommodations, transportation, food, and beverages. For example, when Toronto hosted the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, it is estimated that over 2 million attendees contributed to the growth of the Ontario economy through their spending. 

Similarly, the 2019 Canada Games in Red Deer, Alberta, hosted over 4,700 athletes and coaches who spent an estimated $19.6 million in visitor spending in the local economy. This infusion of cash benefits local businesses in the host communities.

Local Business Revenue and Employment

In addition to visitor spending, major sporting events generate business for local companies. Organizers rely on regional firms for services such as catering, transportation, facilities maintenance, and more. For the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, over 240,000 job opportunities were created across British Columbia. Events like the Grey Cup or Brier also result in increased revenue and staffing needs for restaurants, retailers, broadcast crews, and other suppliers near competition venues.

Construction and Infrastructure Development

Hosting major events requires building new or upgrading existing sporting facilities. This construction spending injects money into the local economy through jobs, materials, and services. Many of these capital improvements benefit communities long after an event concludes through increased sports and recreation opportunities. They can also entice future tournaments and conferences to return.

Domestic and International Branding

Successful events create tremendous exposure for their host cities and countries through extensive global media coverage. For Canada, this translates to invaluable promotion on the world stage. The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, contested across several Canadian cities, generated a record-breaking 1.12 billion viewers and positioned the country as a leader in women’s sports. Such international recognition boosts national pride while attracting new visitors, residents, students, and investment dollars over the long run.

Employment and Economic Activity Beyond Host Cities

While host communities see the greatest economic benefits, major events still translate to increased business and jobs across other parts of the country. For example, Toronto-based companies were commissioned to operate food and beverage stands at the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. Meanwhile, domestic broadcasters like CBC/Radio-Canada and TSN hired additional staff and production crews nationally to cover competitions. Even Canadian Sportsbook platforms like FanDuel see a surge in betting activity from spectators across Canada during major tournaments and these types of events.

Leveraging Event Legacies

Smartly investing pre-event and focusing on post-event legacies maximizes returns on investment. Vancouver used the Winter Olympics infrastructure to boost local tourism and events for future years through assets like the Richmond Olympic Oval and Whistler Sliding Centre. Toronto built sports tourism around the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and venues funded by those Games like the Pan Am Sports Centre. 


While costly to host, major sporting events generate extensive economic impacts that benefit Canadian communities and businesses for years following competitions. They spur tourism, construction, employment, and international recognition with estimated returns often exceeding original investments. Leveraging event legacies, leveraging cross-country business opportunities, and maximizing visitor spending are keys to maximizing these ROI’s. 

When planned and operated responsibly, mega sports tournaments serve as valuable investments for Canada that leave lasting social and financial legacies.