New hope for Brier in Brandon

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

For too many years, Brandon has been told that its Keystone Centre is just too small to host another Brier because the Canadian championship had graduated from big party to big business.

But now that the Canadian Curling Association has awarded the 2006 Brier to Regina, with its 7,000-seat rink, the Wheat City sees no reason to be spurned again.

"Why, all of a sudden, did the CCA go to Regina because they've told us all along that they need 10,000 seats?" asked Reid Lumbard, who has been pushing for a Brier for years.

The CCA apparently awarded the Brier to Regina because it is building a complex similar to the one Brandon already has.

"Now, we're getting padded seats from Winnipeg Arena and the new hotel's going to be open in the spring and attached to the Keystone Centre," said Lumbard. "So, I'm thinking we can still have a shot at the Brier. I've always said that a Brandon or a Regina Brier, budget-wise, would be comparable to a Halifax Brier.

"There's a little glimmer of hope for Brandon."

Although the Manitoba Curling Association had been hoping to land a Brier for the new MTS Centre, the fact that a Grand Slam event could be held there for the next three years may delay those plans (although the Slam spiel must be renewed each year). But the Slam's presence in Winnipeg would not preclude Brandon from landing the Brier.

Lumbard was a key cog behind the highly-successful '95 worlds. Brandon turned a $225,000 profit on a budget of about $4 million. It also set the attendance record (about 250,000) and introduced a section for high-priced sponsors' tables.

"The last time we had the Brier here was 1982 when we invented the Brier Patch and we've had a long time to come up with some new things," Lumbard said.

Ideally, Lumbard would love to land the Brier to help celebrate Brandon's 125th anniversary in 2007. However, Brandon would have to work with the MCA to submit an official bid.

NO SPLASH: Lumbard wants to know where the hype is for Winnipeg's Slam, which promises to showcase the best teams in Canada and raise funds for the Children's Hospital Foundation.

"I don't think they've done any advertising, have they?" he asked. "And it's only two months away. They should be doing something unless they don't care about empty seats. But that's where you get your revenue from."

The World Curling Players' Association has yet to even announce which squads will be here. Funny, but these were the same guys lobbying for provincial exemptions so name teams could be marketed from the start of the season.

COMING UP

The Manitoba Curling Tour's East St. Paul Men's and Women's cashspiel started last night while the White's Drug Store Classic also goes this week in Swan River ... The McDiarmid Lumber Berth Bonspiel starts at the West St. Paul Curling Club on Friday.

HOUSE CLEANING

It's true, next month's Scott Tournament of Hearts city zone playdowns will not be held in the city due to a snafu in icing them here. Instead, the city zones will be held in Selkirk. "One competitive curler called, then yelled at me and said, 'You guys are stupid; the next thing you know, we're going to be playing in Swan River,'" MCA executive director Ian Staniloff said ... Rest assured, this year's Safeway Select city zone playdowns will be held in the city, with the finals at Assiniboine Memorial ... The Granite Curling Club will host a reception for new CCA president Barry Greenberg on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The public is welcome and admission is $10 at the door.


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