Bonspiel format changes raise a few eyebrows

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:06 AM ET

Change is never an easy thing to bring about, at least not without ruffling a few feathers.

Some of the changes made to this year's MCA Bonspiel have been met with lukewarm enthusiasm.

Take for example the decision to cancel the annual Saturday banquet at bonspiel headquarters (Victoria Inn) and instead hand out $12 in MCA bucks to each curler to spend at any of the 19 host curling clubs.

Some curlers questioned getting less value for their entry fee (banquet tickets were worth $20), and some curling club managers said they were getting shortchanged in the deal. They also would have liked to have seen the players receive something more like $20 in MCA bucks.

"Moving the banquet out of headquarters has changed the experience," said MCA executive director Ian Staniloff.

"It wasn't so much that (the curling clubs) wanted the money to be transferred over ... they talked about Saturday being a very big day for them potentially in the bonspiel, but most people were running away to the banquet. So a solution was to see if we could take the banquet out of headquarters and just keep the curlers in the clubs."

At least one curler thought the MCA bucks were a fine idea.

"I think it's great what they are doing," said Gary Ross. "The clubs need this."

Another big change this year was moving the draw almost entirely within the city limits.

That appears to be just another thing that will drive away rural teams.

"Rural people have told us that their perception of this is it's a city bonspiel," said Staniloff. "The city guys get to sleep in their own beds, while the rural guys shell out all kinds of money. The casual, fun type of curling that they used to participate in is not worth the $1,000 it's going to cost if you are planning to come in and spend a whole week here."

While there was little interest in the bonspiel in places like western Manitoba, it did attract teams from Europe, the United States and even New Zealand.

"That says something in itself," said former Canadian champion Vic Peters. "It's still one of the most famous bonspiels in the world."


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