The way Brandon's Allan Lyburn sees it, rural teams will never come back to the MCA Bonspiel in droves unless there are major changes.
Rural numbers are lower than ever this year in the 118th annual bonspiel as the cost of staying in the city goes up and the odds of gaining entry into the provincial men's curling championship go down.
LOWEST SINCE 1960S
Overall, the 441 entries constitute the lowest total since the 1960s.
"A lot of people are dead against changing it, but the bottom line is if you want to attract more teams from outside of Winnipeg you are going to have to change it," said Lyburn, weighing in on a debate that has intensified this year.
"Something has to be done now while the bonspiel is still good, otherwise you are going to start seeing it suffer a bit more."
The Brandon Men's Bonspiel recently underwent major changes and now features a 32-team competitive side and a recreational side. That could work very well at the MCA as well, Lyburn said.
"You have to shorten it up, and I know some people are dead against having a competitive side and a non-competitive side, but it works," he said.
"Brandon has now gone to that, and, for the most part, everybody is pretty happy. You would get it over with a lot quicker, and you'd get more teams interested in playing."
TOUGH TO SWALLOW: When Arnold Asham was eliminated from Safeway Select contention yesterday by Valour Road clubmate James Kirkness, it was especially difficult to take for second Dan Kammerlock.
Kammerlock started the year as the third for Kirkness but was demoted to second in November. Then just before the MCA Bonspiel, he and Kirkness parted ways for good.
"What happened was Dan said after our zone that he wouldn't be able to make Thursday or Friday of the MCA," Kirkness said after his 7-4 win at Charleswood. "We wanted to come in here with a full team and not have a rotating squad. We thought it would be in the team's best interest to find a permanent guy, so we picked up Pat McCallum.
"This was an important game for the spot, but there were some other things as well. I'm sure (Kammerlock) would have liked to lay a licking to us."
However, Kammerlock took the high road.
"Obviously we were both up for the game, but I just tried to play it like it was anyone else. If you've got that stuff in the back of your mind it's just going to creep up on you and affect the way you are playing.
"I'd be a little disappointed (about missing the Select) no matter who I was playing."
WILEY VETERAN: Don Wiles of Fort Rouge made it all the way to the quarter-finals in one of the main events, but he was never in contention for a Safeway Select berth.
His team was ruled ineligible on two counts, yesterday. First of all, they couldn't produce CCA competitor cards, and secondly, Wiles uses a delivery stick to throw stones.
Players using a stick are eligible to compete in bonspiels but not to qualify for provincial championships. Regardless, Wiles lost 7-0 to Wayne Ewasko of Selkirk in the quarter-final.
Meanwhile, Dan Puls of Charleswood also reached the quarter-finals despite the fact that no one on his team has a competitor card.