Hot tickets for a cool game
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
For the next 17 days it's going to be the Edmonton 2005 'Freeze in the Dark' Brier.
OK, they're not exactly marketing it that way. But if you thought the 2005 Brier was going to be about anything other than, first and foremost, being the first big party of Alberta's big 100th birthday, those thoughts didn't even make it to the hog line.
To kick off an incredibly ambitious organizational undertaking, it was announced that from 10 a.m. today until the first rock is thrown at the Saskatoon Brier March 6, all-event tickets will go on sale to Alberta residents and Alberta residents only.
Stubble Jumpers, Blue Nosers, Lotus Landers, fans of the Buffalo Boys, etc., as the fans from the various provinces happily refer to themselves at the Brier, need not apply.
It doesn't matter if a fan has been going to the Brier for 40 consecutive years, any Albertan is going to be able to have first choice at the best seats at the Brier to celebrate Alberta's Centennial during the next 17 days.
But it goes beyond that.
Co-chairmen Terry Morris and Darwin Daviduk unveiled plans which will make the 2005 event as much a celebration of 100 years in Alberta sport as the curling championship which just happens to have been won by an Alberta rink seven of the last 15 years, including an unprecedented three in a row by Randy Ferbey's Edmonton Avonair rink which is headed to Saskatoon to go for four.
"Everything we're going to do will be to focus on Alberta and 100 years of sport in this province," said Daviduk.
"We're inviting every sport association in the province to submit names of their top athletes over the last 100 years," he said of a process which will include a chance for the public to vote.
"Each of the selections will be introduced prior to the start of one of the 17 draws, with the top four to be involved in throwing and sweeping the ceremonial first rock."
SPORTS STARS OF THE CENTURY
He said he also expects Alberta sports stars of the century would be incorporated into the television coverage in more than a token way during the 2005 Brier.
"Fans with tickets will be able to listen to the legends talk about their memories and rub shoulders with them after draws at the Purple Heart Lounge and the Brier Patch. We think the entire concept will attract all sports fans, not just curling fans."
Only Brier ticket holders are admitted to the Brier Patch and Purple Heart Lounge.
Daviduk says every attempt will be made to convince every star of Alberta sport over the past century, from Wayne Gretzky to Kurt Browning to Ken Read to Jackie Parker to Lanny McDonald to the last living members of the Edmonton Grads to be there.
"We've put out some feelers and believe that most of them will be delighted to be here to celebrate Alberta's century in sport at an event we hope will be remembered as being something special well into the next century."
THE LOGO AND THEME
The logo and theme were also unveiled at the press conference at Sutton Place yesterday.
The logo features Alberta Brier blue and gold colours involving a curling rock using the letter 'e' for Edmonton in a sweeping brushstroke style.
The theme is 'Alberta's Draw of the Century'.
"Our mission is to become the biggest draw of any curling event ever held anywhere in the world," said Morris. "We intend to make it the largest single-sport championship in the history of the province of Alberta."
To do it, they need to sell about 300,000 tickets, or better than 12,000 a draw. With such ambitions, organizers yesterday put out first call for an unprecedented Brier volunteer force of 1,000.
All-event tickets are scaled at $500 (platinum), $450 (gold), $375 (silver) and $275 (bronze).
With many people expecting the NHL not to play hockey next season and an ambitious program that will include a promotion inviting former Albertans to make the Brier a 100th-anniversary homecoming, organizers believe they can pull it all off.
In the next few months they'll also begin a corporate sponsorship search to provide tickets for school children and seniors to be bused in for morning draws from around the province.
But the 'Alberta Advantage' ticket launch, they believe, could make it a tough ticket long before anybody knows who is curling in next year's Brier.
"We talk about the Alberta advantage, of living here and doing business here and we believe Albertans should have an advantage when it comes to celebrating our 100th birthday party with the 2005 Brier," said Morris.
"I'm sure we'll get some flak.
But I'm sure all the people from all over Canada who come to the Brier every year are going to be buying their tickets March 6 because they're not going to want to miss this."
As for freezing in the dark, the stars will be out at the Purple Heart Lounge and there will be plenty of antifreeze available in the Brier Patch.