Volume 93, Issue 21

Tuesday, October 5, 1999


Saugeen pub questions linger

Canada founds world's first online university

Police target rising numbers of youth in crime

Air waves muddled at U of T radio

Millennium and J.W. Little turn weekend profit for city

Homecoming hooplah kept low


Buzz Mecca

Millennium and J.W. Little turn weekend profit for city

By Stephanie Cesca
Gazette Staff

Western's football team were not the only ones celebrating this Homecoming weekend – the London community was yelling touchdown all the way to the bank.

Mike Harris, manager of Tourism London, said this year's event brought about 10,000 people to the city and an estimated $2 million in revenue. "We surveyed 500 of the incoming people to get a handle on how much money was generated.

"The economic impact is felt throughout the whole community," Harris said. "Certainly I think that the hotels and restaurants were probably as busy as they ever were."

Harris added since so many people and so much money is involved in the annual event, Tourism London purchased a software program called Tourism Economic Assessment Model, which assesses exactly how much is delegated for Homecoming as well as how much returns as profit.

Sara Steers, associate director of alumni programs at Western, said London businesses faced a higher number of customers due to a larger than expected return of alumni.

Steers said she approximated 7,000 main campus alumni returned for the weekend. "It's definitely way up there," she said, adding this year's event had higher numbers from past years.

Susan Horvath, director of alumni relations and development at Western, said she attributed three factors to the amount of success this year. She attributed the fact this is the millennium year as well as the last year for J.W. Little Memorial Stadium to be what likely prompted the influx of alumni to London. "And I think too, we organized a terrific program. It was just the best ever, we're just thrilled with it."

"This is a tremendously successful Homecoming," said London Mayor Dianne Haskett. "Obviously, it's a tremendous benefit for the city." Haskett added she was pleased to know London businesses would profit from the weekend and attributed the success to Western's marketing of the event.

"I certainly think [J.W. Little Stadium] had some effect in having the numbers so high," she said, adding next year's numbers would hopefully be higher because of the new stadium.

Haskett also said she was impressed with the attraction of the parade, which took place along Richmond Street instead of its typical St. George Street route. "It was just so great that so many Londoners turned out to look."

"We love Homecoming," said Kathy Burns, owner of Garlic's restaurant in London. She said this past weekend was phenomenal for business.

Burns said hers, along with all restaurant businesses, felt the impact of this event. "It doesn't happen every weekend," she said. She added Garlic's turned away about 120 people on Saturday night alone. "Everybody's busy and it's wonderful."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999