Brier ticket sales rockin'

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:03 AM ET

We're No. 5! We're No. 5!

That's what they could be chanting at the 2005 Edmonton Brier office.

If the Brier started today, it would already rank as the fifth-highest attended rock-toss of all time.

Combined ticket sales hit 225,248 late last week, breezing past the previous No. 5 set by Calgary in 1997.

"We're headed for a record total," said Terry Morris, president of the 2005 Tim Hortons Brier. "It's a lot better at this time than in was it '99 and our big goal of 300,000 is achievable. We'll certainly break Saskatoon's record."

Morris credits great public response to the Alberta Advantage campaign as the main factor in giving Edmonton's event a shot at that goal.

Edmonton 2005 knew 75% of fans attending Briers are within driving distance of the event, and that's where most of their dollars in an aggressive marketing campaign have been targeted.

"We're a lot more active in getting into communities," Morris said. "We really have been active since we first put the Alberta Advantage packages on sale."

Morris plans to set up kiosks at the men's northerns in Edson next weekend and the provincials in Innisfail early next month.

"Anything helps," said Morris. "I'd like to see the record broken during the week the provincial winner is declared. Then, we'd really have a shot at 300,000."

If the existing record is broken at Innisfail, it's almost a slam-dunk to get the final 51,000 as interest heats up closer to the March 5-13 event.

Day-pass and single-ticket campaigns have not yet been announced and walk-up sales during the event could take it over the top. This sales level has been achieved without one provincial winner being declared - emphasizing the viewpoint that it's the event itself that sells tickets.

King's glimmer of hope

Cathy King had more than a passing interest in the results of the women's southern Alberta playdowns.

Her team sits at No. 3 on the Canadian Team Ranking system behind Cheryl Bernard and Renelle Bryden, both of Calgary. So, when Bryden beat Bernard in the C qualifier Monday, it gave King a glimmer of hope.

King and Bryden earned a minimum five CTRS points for qualifiying for the provincial, with an additional five points available for a non-tiebreaker playoff team.

King is now 13.5 points behind Bernard, meaning first place is in sight.

"We have to win," said King yesterday, after mulling over all the possibilities.

ROCK WATCHERS

Brier attendance records:

1. Saskatoon 2000: 248,793

2. Calgary 2002: 245,296

3. Edmonton 1999: 242,887

4. Saskatoon 2004: 238,129

5. Edmonton 2005: 225,458*

6. Calgary 1997: 223,322

7. Halifax 2003: 158,414

8. Ottawa 2001: 154,136

9. Saskatoon 1989: 151,538

10. Winnipeg 1998: 147,017

*as of Jan. 7


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