Set to Rock the World

Dave Nedohin holds up the curling world championship banner his team won in Victoria this spring....

Dave Nedohin holds up the curling world championship banner his team won in Victoria this spring. The banner was given to the Randy Ferbey-skipped team Thursday, Oct. 6, 2005. (Edmonton Sun/Jason Franson)

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

Can Edmonton do for the 2007 Men's Worlds what it did for the 2005 Brier?

That's the idea. That's the plan. And most definitely, that's the challenge.

The official announcement of Edmonton chosen as host city for the 2007 World Curling Championships was made yesterday. On these pages, where your agent broke the story six months back at the Brier, we prefer to call it the official confirmation.

Accepting the challenge to take the event to become as big as a Brier is the story here.

They are not wishing or hoping or praying. They're planning.

"Our goal is 200,000 fans," said Edmonton 2007 president Jackie-Rae Greening.

"Since curling became an Olympic sport, international curling has improved ten-fold. Those teams are good now. And because of the Randy Ferbey rink, the fans in Edmonton know that. There's only one place in the world we believe can guarantee to take the Worlds to the level it now deserves to go. That's why it's being held here. That's why we're setting our goal at 200,000."

PRE-SALE GOAL

Understand, that's the pre-sale goal.

That's the goal in ticket sales before the 2007 Brier is even held. That's before you know if Randy Ferbey, Dave Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque will be representing Canada and going for another world championship, maybe even as defending Olympic gold medal winners.

Or Kevin Martin. Or another Alberta rink. Or somebody from Punkydoodles Corners, Ont., Wampum, Man., Spuzzum, B.C., Go Home, Ont., Meat Grove, N.S., Bastard, Ont., Poopoo Creek, B.C., Dildo, Nfld (down the road from Come By Chance), or Climax, Sask. or any other town in this curling-crazy nation where there's at least a two-sheeter to be found.

Last year's Brier hit 255,000 before the provincial playoffs were held to determine Alberta's representative.

"I believe 200,000 can easily be exceeded if the right things happen and everything falls into place," said Warren Hansen of the CCA. "The goal of 200,000 would be without a team from Alberta."

Even without the Ferbey Four, Hansen believes the event will be a success because of the four-time Brier winning, three-time world champions.

"A team from here has won the Worlds three times and Edmonton has followed them almost like the Oilers and the Eskimos. They watched the Worlds last year and know the calibre of the curling," said Hansen of the better-than-the-Brier Worlds which featured a six-way tie for first place.

NEVER HELD IN EDMONTON

The Worlds have never before been held in Edmonton. The only time they've ever been staged in Alberta was in 1964 in the old Stampede Corral in Calgary.

The Edmonton 1999 Brier set the all-time curling event attendance record of 242,887.

This year's Brier smashed it to smithereens at 281,985 and would have hit 300,000 if Dave Nedohin hadn't missed his last rock shot on the last round of the round robin to prevent a host of tie-breakers.

With his team away playing in a spiel in Switzerland, Nedohin (waiting for the arrival of a second child in two weeks) was in town to accept the presentation of the 2004 World Champions banner.

"Ten years ago the Worlds weren't a big deal. But in the last five or so years ... well, that six-way tie last year says it all.

"I think the crowds will come. I think they'll watch Switzerland vs Norway just the same as they'd watch Saskatchewan vs. Nova Scotia. The crowd in Victoria adopted New Zealand just like the crowd here adopted Randy 'The Lunch Box' Dutiaume."

There will be skeptics.

Until proven otherwise the Worlds are a much tougher sell than the Brier. Terry Morris, the man who chaired the two Brier successes, has taken over as head of finances for the CCA.

Morris said the Brier made $4.8 million in ticket sales and $7.3 million overall.

He predicts $3.5 million in Worlds ticket sales and pushing $6 million overall.

No Worlds have ever come close to those numbers.

And while he'll very much be around as the power behind the throne, one of the reasons Morris said he picked CFCW morning show host Greening was that the event needs somebody with a profile and personality to help sell it. Greening offered her own version at the press conference:

"He told me he needed a sexy broad to take over the helm and that he thought of me immediately."


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