NIAGARA FALLS, ONT. - The crowds are already making their way into Niagara Falls, Ontario to watch what has become one of the fastest-growing sports in the world.
Organizers expect between 60,000 and 80,000 people in town to watch the Red Bull Smashed Ice Championship Series opener. The sport is a combination of speed skating, down-hill skiing, bobsled and demolition derby. But for this region it is also a combination of dollars and cents.
Niagara Falls, Ontario Mayor Jim Diodati says the economic impact of this two day event could range from 20 to 30 million dollars. He says it also represents an new marketing approach for his city. "You know this is our new philosophy here, blockbuster events."
Diodati says the Wallenda walk last June opened his eyes to the possibilities and potential of an event-driven economy. In addition to the events on the ice track this weekend there is also a free concert and the closing time for the bars has been moved back to 4 a.m.
On the heels of this event, Niagara Falls is also planning a New Years Eve celebration with high-profile musical acts that will be televised nationally to an audience of 2 million households, making it the biggest New Years party in Canada.
Diodati wrapped up his comments by saying 'Wait until you see what we have planned for next year."
As for tomorrow night the Crashed Ice Championships run from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. and are free and open to the public, starting from the base of Skylon Tower.