Toronto Positioning Itself to Become World Curling Hotspot
15 Apr, 2015By: Tracey Schelmetic
While many people’s exposure to curling is limited to the Winter Olympic Games, the sport’s permanent fan base is expanding.
While the sport is played in many countries, it’s often closely identified with Canada, the site of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling, an annual series comprised of curling tournaments that invites the world’s best curlers to complete in Canada. The event, which ran from April 7th to 12th at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, is owned and operated by Sportsnet, a Rogers Media company. In a recent blog post, Yahoo Sports’ Don Landry wrote that Toronto may become one of the championship’s regular homes.
Pierre Charette, president of the World Competitive Curlers Association, was recently asked whether the city might become a permanent, yearly stop on the circuit, raising the profile of Toronto in the world of curling.
“There has been no announcement along those lines, but it will not be a surprise if Toronto becomes a featured destination on the tour, be it as the ongoing home of the Players' or of a new event being introduced next season, the year-ending Champions Cup,” wrote Landry.
We’re just touching the tip of the iceberg here,” said Charette, enthused by the increased crowd numbers coming through the turnstiles in Toronto this year. While no exact attendance figures were released, according to Sportsnet/Rogers, the event experienced a 25 percent increase in attendance over 2013.
The Pinty’s Grand Slam will no doubt be an economic boon to Toronto. The series is being expanded from five events to seven for the upcoming 2015-16 season and will then be further expanded to eight events in 2016-17. The financial rewards will be expanding as well: total prize money for the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events will increase to $1.5 million for 2015-16 and $2.5 million for 2016-17. The event has also become increasingly televised, which leads to more numerous and lucrative sponsorship relationships.
“I’m a firm believer that if we have a site where we keep coming back to, it’s going to get even bigger in the sense that people will put that in their calendar and make it to Toronto for April,” said Charette.
Landry notes that the month of April represents a great opportunity for curling in Toronto.
“The month of April seems a good fit for curling tourists for a number of reasons,” wrote Landry. “Hotel prices are, generally, cheaper as the city's off-season for tourism has just ended and peak season doesn't arrive until June. April might often feature grey drizzle in Toronto, but it's still Toronto. People might grouse about ‘the center of the universe,’ but they still like to visit, and a curling trip can always include live theatre, shopping, a baseball game and maybe even a little golf, if you're lucky.”