Dawson Creek may be a bit off the beaten path, but the vibrant B.C. town is bustling with a resilient economy and residents who know how to rock, thrash and get down. The city’s Encana Events Centre is enjoying another marque year with a diverse array of talent that includes everyone from Weezer and Thomas Rhett to Bob Dylan and the I Love the 90’s Tour. Even Slayer is scheduled to play a show at the Spectra-managed 4,500-capacity venue this August.

“I think we’ve got a really great history of doing shows for a venue this size,” Ryan MacIvor, Spectra’s General Manager at the Encana Events Centre, told Amplify. “We’re probably the most northern routable venue that there is in Canada. Without looking at a map, we’re pretty far up there.”

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Located way up north in B.C., the venue is a 13-hour drive from Vancouver, a five-hour drive from Edmonton and a six-and-a-half drive from Calgary. Its distance is also its best asset — the building routes great on the West Coast, opening up a Canadian route that wasn’t in existence before.

The venue soon helped Dawson Creek become recognized as a market that sells tickets and has great content partnerships with Invictus Entertainment Group, Live Nation, Mascioli Entertainment and Paul Mercs Concerts.

“We have a diverse economy and the reason the arena gives people a chance to bring top tiered events to Dawson Creek. Instead of everyone driving to Edmonton or the next biggest center to go to concerts and events, we want to reverse those tail lights,” MacIvor said.

It’s now common to see as much as two-thirds of the Encana Centre’s ticket sales come from people who live outside the city, he added, which has allowed for a strong “economic impact on event nights and event days.”

The Encana Centre has also hosted the musical Mamma Mia as well as small festivals, including Grizfest and Canolafest, to help leverage its ticketing, food and beverage and corporate sales.

The venue’s signature event this year is the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. The competition draws the best youth hockey players in the world to Dawson Creek and Fort St. John to the north. Eight teams, from Canada as well as the U.S., Czech Republic, Russia, Finland and Sweden, compete Nov. 5-11 for a championship title.

The event shows off Dawson Creek’s longtime love of the sport and has helped put the city on the international map.

“It brings national credibility to your market, the venue, the cities,” MacIvor said. “It helps increase brand awareness but it also increases the eyes on your community in terms of television and social media.”

He recalled hockey scouts “from a whole wide range of different teams were here back in 2015 watching certain kids or just watching in general,” MacIvor said. “They were blown away by the venue, the facilities, and the capabilities of the event. We’ve always punched above our weight class in terms of the events and the activities that we provide and we’re just so pleased to be able to offer that again.”

MacIvor said the venue is also looking at more opportunities for public use, including indoor soccer, volleyball, basketball, and putting in a wood or rubber sports floor and netting systems.

A big key to the Encana Center’s success, MacIvor said, is its partnership with Spectra. He works closely with Spectra’s South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton and the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, which easily route to Dawson Creek, creating opportunities for all three venues.

In December, Dawson Creek city officials renewed an agreement with Spectra that extends its contract with the city through 2027.

“I think that it just speaks volumes to Spectra’s ability to understand and grow the market and be part of the community,” MacIvor said. “I think it’s a great achievement to renew a contract for that long.”

This story was co-written with Maggie O’Brien

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Dave Brooks

Founder & Executive Editor at Amplify Media
Dave Brooks has over 15 years experience as a writer, including eight years as the Managing Editor of Venues Today. He started Amplify in 2014 to give the industry its own voice and turn up the volume on live entertainment.
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