by Mike Keenan
In the 2002 film, Men with Brooms, Paul Gross, Leslie Nielsen, James B. Douglas star as men who take time from their personal problems to reunite as a curling team and compete in a bonspiel that will restore their honour.
Well, it’s a few years hence but St. Catharines will bid to host the 2020 men’s national curling championship. That will involve many men with brooms seeking national honours.
The Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the national women’s curling championship counterpart at Meridian Centre last February drew 60,000 spectators, a substantial number over the 10 days of competition. The men’s 10-day Brier Championships involves teams from 15 provinces and territories with an estimated impact of $12-15 million. That’s a substantial economic boost to any host city and well worth this city’s efforts after its initial success with the ladies. The bid must be submitted by the end of the year.
An impetus for the bid comes from the St. Catharines Golf and Country Club. It recently asked council to partner by waiving fees of $202,660 and providing financial support. They would also like help with planning and building an appropriate outdoor entertainment venue downtown close to the tournament.
Doug Geddie from the club said, “We know from the Scotties we can be gracious, organized and welcoming hosts. We’d like you to consider partnering with us to do it again for an even bigger event.”
At the Scotties, spectators purchased $800,000 worth of tickets. It was estimated that over 60% of the fans traveled here from outside Niagara. There was 65 total hours of TSN national exposure on TV. Mr. Geddie suggests that local hotels and restaurants will experience sellouts with this prized tournament.
Geddie favours an area set aside close to the Meridian Centre that will provide food, beverages as well as entertainment in the form of musicians that might accommodate up to 2,000 fans. His organization has targeted the parking lot at 123 St. Paul St. across from the Rankin Bridge to the Meridian Centre.
Mayor Sendzik, impressed with the impact from TSN which covered the Scotties, suggested that the value of TV advertising alone would be worth far more than the city’s initial outlay.
The construction of the Meridian Centre and the downtown PAC allows for valuable programming of this nature that further enhances the economic viability of St. Catharines. Let’s hope everyone gets behind this bid and that the PAC’s Film House might fittingly run Men with Brooms during the tournament!
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