Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque’s economy just may be the top winner during the 2019 National Senior Games, which continues through Tuesday at multiple venues in the Duke City.
With nearly 14,000 athletes participating, and support from up to 30,000 of their friends and family members, hotels are full, restaurants are packed and local cultural attractions are seeing heavy foot traffic.
“We’re anecdotally hearing reports from our hospitality partners that since the start of the games they have had high occupancies,” Tania Armenta, president and CEO of Visit Albuquerque, said Friday. “Not only are hotels filled, but Airbnb hosts report a 75-80% occupancy over the course of the games. We’ve seen athletes arriving earlier to explore not only the city but the state, and I’ve heard from restaurants that have added additional staff to keep up with the pace of athletes who are dining with them.”
Before the games began, the city of Albuquerque commissioned an economic impact survey through Workforce Solutions, which estimated that impact at $34 million.
“Our organization has run the numbers through our economic impact calculator, and the number is right there,” Armenta said. “We show $17 million in direct visitor spending and about the same in terms of overall economic impact.”
Shelle Sanchez, director of Albuquerque’s Cultural Services Department, said an invitation was placed in the welcome bag of all 14,000 senior athletes, welcoming them to visit the city’s museums, BioPark and other cultural amenities and informing them that by showing their competitor’s badge they would pay the in-state senior rate.
“I expect to see a nice bump in attendance for the weeks before, during and after the Senior Games,” she said. “These are older people who are active, love to travel and many came early and planned to stay late.”
Cainan Harris, general manager of the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Albuquerque, the headquarters hotel for the National Senior Games staff, said rooms have been consistently sold out since June 14, as have rooms at the Hotel Andaluz, also Downtown, said general manager Phil Snyder. Both said business at their respective hotel restaurants, sandwich shops and bars has also been brisk.
“This will be the best June on record in the 10 years that Andaluz has been operating,” Snyder said.
Jesse Herron, who operates the Albuquerque Tourism and Sightseeing Factory, added an additional trolley tour to its daily schedule since the Senior Games began.
Jessica Fox, marketing and communications director for Sandia Peak Ski and Tram, said there has been a 35-40% increase in tram ridership since the start of the games, in addition to a significant increase in business at Sandiago’s Grill at the base of the tram.
Lindy’s Diner, a Downtown landmark restaurant has seen a 10% increase in business, said owner Steve Vatoseow.
“We see the athletes mainly at night, because a lot of them compete during the day and at night they have more free time,” he said. Still, two women’s softball teams filled up the restaurant during the day last week, he said.
“They’re really nice people and it’s been an inspiration to see them,” Vatoseow said of the senior athletes. “They have great spirit and are in great shape. I’ve seen some 90-year-old guys who came in here – I wouldn’t mess with them.”