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HOCR Business Is Booming, to the Tune of $88 Million

By Ysabelle Kempe
Posted on October 17, 2019
HOCR Business Is Booming, to the Tune of $88 Million

Rodly Pierre has been driving back and forth between downtown Boston and the finish line of the Head Of The Charles Regatta all weekend. For Pierre, an Uber driver, the regatta means more than rowing. It means business is booming. But every cloud has a silver lining.

“So much traffic,” Pierre mumbled to himself, as a radio program rambles in French out of his car speakers. “So much.”

He’s not wrong. About 225,000 people were expected to attend this year’s Head Of The Charles, according to the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, and with the masses comes the money.

The race is expected to draw about $88 million dollars worth of spending, according to a Convention and Visitors Bureau study, with $70 million worth of that total coming from athletes, coaches, and visitors on lodging, transportation, retail, and other types of recreational tourism. The remaining amount comes from the media, sponsors, and event organizers.

Jennifer Kane and her husband came to Boston from Ocean City, New Jersey, to watch their two daughters row in the regatta. Kane was not surprised when she heard the race had that much economic impact. This weekend, she and her husband have already paid to stay at an AirBnB in Cambridge, gone out to eat multiple times, and plan to pay a visit to the North End at some point.

“We think of it as a vacation,” Kane said. “We don’t go away very often.”

It’s not just typical travel costs that contribute to the weekend’s economic boom. The event ground itself absolutely begs attendees to spend money. Vendors line the sidewalks near the finish line. Want a sandwich? A Brooks Brothers shirt? A Clif bar? A brand-new rowing machine? You got it.

“It is commercial, but that’s one of the things my daughters look forward to every year,” Kane said. “It’s like a trade show.”

Jean Harris traveled to the Head Of The Charles from Bolton, England, to watch her granddaughter race. (Photo by Ysabelle Kemp)

















While the Kane family are regatta regulars, it was Jean Harris’ first time at the Head Of The Charles. Harris hails from Bolton, England, and was in Boston to watch her granddaughter row.

Harris is paying $350 a night for five nights at a Hilton hotel in Boston. On Saturday, she went on a duck tour and had a salad at Sweetgreen. On top of the cost of her flight and hotel, Harris brought $600 worth of spending money and doesn’t plan on taking any of it home.

“The exchange rate isn’t that good from an English pound to an American dollar right now,” Harris said. “I feel like it’s quite expensive in Boston.”

Kate O’Sullivan, age 28, also came to the regatta from England. She rows with the Auriol Kensington Rowing Club, which is based out of London. She and her team stand in a loosely formed circle, fixated on their phones and panicking. They are all trying to get tickets to a Bruins game later that night.

“Too much,” O’Sullivan said of how much she is paying for this weekend. “The real spending will be tonight and tomorrow when we go out.”

By Ysabelle Kempe
Posted on October 17, 2019