Thursday, November 08, 2007

Toronto 2009

Just to catch you up, here’s the Globe and Mail take on Tuesday’s Capital One announcement, followed by Sun Media and their outspoken columnist Bill Lankhof, plus this piece in the National Post and, finally, this from Murray M in Regina.

A common theme here was:


Indeed, pencil October 21-25, 2009 into the calendar for a major curling event in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, home to hockey’s Maple Leafs, basketball’s Raptors, lacrosse’s Rock (last we heard) and countless live concerts from major recording artists around the world.

The top four or so Canuck teams vying desperately for Canada’s berth into the 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be there, along with a batch of world teams already qualified for Vancouver. There will also be a pool of women’s teams doing battle, along with some “Legends”. Can anybody say Wrench?

This will be Toronto’s first major curling event since the 1986 Worlds, held at Exhibition Place, and the first really-big cashspiel since Doug Maxwell built the Tournament of Champions at Maple Leaf Gardens in the early 1960s.

We say really big because Toronto did have a great cashspiel for many years, hosted by downtown’s Royal Canadian CC, but that went belly-up a decade ago.

Then, last year, Weston’s popular September event collapsed due to lack of entries... although the sponsor now supports a thriving Seniors cashspiel.

Last summer, the Avonlea club died, killing 16 sheets of ice and throwing the local curling market into a tizzy. This marked the fifth or so metro club closure in the last decade.

Finally, Brampton celebrated last month’s 25th anniversary Bacardi Rumspiel with the announcement that the sponsor was bailing out... in fact, the sponsor even showed up to present the trophy and, er, say goodbye. Gee, thanks.

Critics would say Toronto curling is dying, folks, and Toronto 2009 could be a huge shot in the arm for the wonderfully stubborn city curlers who just keep on rockin’. Truth is, Toronto boasts a big curling family – some 13,000 strong, they say – and they’ve still got some 22-odd clubs, most of which are doing quite well. The Toronto Curling Association has partnered with Insight Sports – who also claim support from the city and provincial politicians – to bring this event into the hallowed hockey grounds, and there is no doubt the on-ice action will put the recent efforts of Toranna’s pro hockey millionaires to shame. The question is, will the curlers and curling fans buy tickets?

The latest from SWEEP! Magazine breaks down the ticket pricing – also comparing Grand Slam, Casino Rama Skins, Brier, Scotties and Olympic ducats – and given the big discount available to ticket buyers between now and January 2008 (saving $100) declares Toronto 2009 to be a good deal. The Ontario Curling Report is excited, as is the TCA, with president Beth Woolnough telling The Curling News:

We’re pleased to be part of Toronto 2009. This is a brilliant opportunity not only for our member clubs, who will receive a portion of the ticket sales, but to showcase the great sport of curling in the GTA.
It’s been too long since such a major curling event has come to Toronto. With the support of GTA area curlers, I believe that this event will be a success... and prove to everyone that Toronto can host a curling event.

Early reports say the clubs are raring to go, and ticket sales are just getting under way. Naturally, we hear that some members are skeptical while their curling managers are enthused, and some other managers are skeptical while their members are enthused.

Typical stuff, but there is a precedent for Hogtowners to band together and make a sacrifice for their sport. Remember Men With Brooms? The film production crew created poster sign-up sheets and asked each club to appoint a volunteer. The ask was to rally people to take a day off work – horrors! – to sit in the mock-stands, and mock-cheer as mock-spectators during the mock-action scenes.

What happened? Busloads of people showed up, and these volunteers agreed to eat a day’s pay for their sport. Now, the current ask – six years later – is to simply buy, and help sell, a whack of ticket packages.

Toronto is a money town... buying and selling shouldn’t be so hard, right?



• TCA is also running a fundraiser in conjunction with CurlTV: simply sign up for the dynamic paycurl channel and quote promo code TCAjunior (case sensitive) and you’ve just done two things: you’ve got yourself a discount, and you’ve supported Toronto curling. Booyah ...

• Speaking of The Wrench, head on over to The Curling News Facebook Group (you must have a FB user ID) and look for a cool foto of Eddie with his Avonlea championship banners. The Wrench roared down the 404/DVP to rescue them from his soon-to-close home club last summer, and this foto was snapped at Eddie’s home – by TCN’s Ryan Durham – just a couple of weeks later ...

• Here’s a couple of TV “curling” spots for you, from Service Canada and the Alberta town of Canmore, starring KMart ...

• Here’s a look at “copper country” curling ...

They announced the host city for the 2009 Ontario men’s championship yesterday (the 2008 event goes in Kitchener-Waterloo) ...

• Darned right! Now that’s a more accurate calorie-count for curling, we say ...

Congrats today go to Jenn Hanna, and best of luck ...

• Finally, The Canadian Mixed – remember that one? – gets underway in Cowtown this weekend. Here’s the CCA newser; here’s the CP pickup; and here’s some promo for Team Manitoba, and two stories on Team Nova Scotia, located here and here. And, of course, we expect Al Cameron to be an active blogger during this week-long event ...

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