Steinbach ready for repeat

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

The event had not even finished before many were saying it would be worth another trip to Steinbach for a Safeway Select.

Or another provincial championship for that matter.

The host committee quickly sold out its sponsorship for the first men's provincial championship to be held in the Automobile City, and the players curled before sold-out crowds for most of the week, albeit in a tiny barn.

"It was a fabulous success from all accounts -- including the curlers," Manitoba Curling Association executive director Ian Staniloff said yesterday. "Some volunteers even said they could use a bigger place if they were going to do it again."

The capacity of the aging T.G. Smith Centre for curling was only about 1,200.

Although some have speculated that Steinbach may realize a profit as high as $100,000, that may be pushing it, Staniloff said.

"It depends on what kind of arrangement they had with the facility, and I don't know how they did in the bar area," he said, adding that the bottom line will not be known for a month or two.

SAFEWAY FUTURE: Canada Safeway also seemed pleased with the event, which is significant, as its contract as the title sponsor comes up for renewal this year.

"We're optimistic that hopefully we can finalize a new agreement with them soon," Staniloff said. "It was a very strong event, and that should help."

BRIER FAVES: Saskatchewan's Pat Simmons and Newfoundland's Mark Peddigrew earned trips to the Brier late Sunday, while Nova Scotia, B.C. and Yukon/N.W.T. will determine their reps later this week.

Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton, Alberta's Kevin Martin and Ontario's Glenn Howard will likely be the favourites at the Brier, to be played in Regina March 11-19.

"I think (Stoughton) is the best team in the world right now," suggested a biased Staniloff. "And they have been for the last two or three months, except for that one game (Olympic trials loss to Newfoundland's Brad Gushue)."

CORRECTION: Seems like not all other provinces employ the round-robin format for their men's championships, as suggested by both Stoughton and Vic Peters -- who agreed with Stoughton's suggestion to trim the 32-team field in Manitoba.

Saskatchewan ice technician Glenn Albertson pointed out that his province reverted to a three-team knockout format when it increased its field to 16 by awarding exemptions to its top cashspiel touring teams.

SLAM CASH: Heard some grumbling in Steinbach over the fact that teams had yet to be paid their winnings from the Winnipeg Grand Slam and had doubts as to whether they would risk going to St. John's, N.L., for the next Slam later this month. Stoughton is also still awaiting his $30,000 cheque, confirmed his third, Jon Mead.

"It's usually at least 30 days between, and I'm not worried," Mead said. "I've heard that at almost every single Slam. That's just the way these things always work. But I haven't heard anything like that (teams declining to go because of it)."

Stoughton said Sunday that he is still planning to go to Newfoundland. So is Peters.

NEXT: Fresh off such an impressive showing at the Select, Reid Carruthers will be skipping a squad at the national university championships, to be played at Asham Arena next month.

SENDOFFS: The Fort Rouge Curling Club will host a Scott sendoff for Manitoba champion Janet Harvey on Sunday starting at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10 ... Although it has yet to be confirmed, the St. Vital club will likely host one for Team Canada's Jennifer Jones on Monday.


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