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Hockey expo pumps money into local economy

Hockey convention brings big benefits into the desert

There's nothing like a little ice to cool you down on a hot day. A winter sport has taken over the desert. Bauer, the world's leading hockey equipment maker, is holding its expo in the Coachella Valley this week. This international event is a big boost to the local economy.

Flip flops and hockey is not a combination you see everyday but it's one executives at Bauer hope will be a real winner.

Ed Kinnaly, Exec. VP of Global Commerce for Bauer, says, "This place is fantastic."

Nearly 500 people from 50 countries have descended on Indian Wells to check out the latest in hockey equipment technology.

Kinnaly, says, "We give them a preview of the new products that are coming out next year."

The event also took over Desert Ice Castle in Cathedral City.

"We bring in either dealers and/or consumers to be able to try our products before they buy them. So think of it as a really large demo event," says Kinnaly.

It's a demo event that includes a full hockey tournament.

Vicki Vasquez, the event coordinator for Desert Ice Castle, says, "Its our first real big event and its very exciting that to see everybody so excited these ex-NHL players. Its like a little Olympics for them here today."

When the vendors aren't at the expo, or playing hockey, there are on El Paseo spending money.

Kinnaly says, "Its been a really nice time for us. There's been great shopping downtown for particularly the folks that are in from Europe, the environment is fantastic, the hotel is first rate, and we love it here."

Scott White, the President and CEO of the Greater Palm Springs Visitor and Convention Bureau, says, "A group like this, is going to be anywhere from $700,000 to a million on direct spending. Then you are going to have what ever the group spending on their organized events, so this could easily become a $2 million group."

That's a lot of money going directly into the local economy.

White says, "The nice thing, today with social media is that they are taking pictures with their smart phones and sharing it with their friends."

The Convention and Visitor's Bureau hopes their good experience will translate into more trips in the future.

"For us, group business is the life blood of the destination," says White.

Vasquez says, "It's a good opportunity for us."

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