Sarnia scores Ontario men's curling

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:11 AM ET

SARNIA -- It will be the biggest curling event Sarnia has held.

And when it's over, Sarnia hopes that not only will the rest of the province have seen great curling, but learned a little about the city as well.

The Kia Cup, the Ontario men's championship, will be held at the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre in February with 10 of the province's top teams competing to represent Ontario at the Brier in Hamilton in March.

But it's not only about curling for Sarnia.

"We accept this opportunity to showcase our county, our city, our club and our wonderful sports facility," co-chairperson Ted Evans said yesterday at the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club. "And in case you haven't heard it yet, you'll hear it quite often through the next five or six months, our promotion logo, 'Be a part of a rockin' good time.' "

Finance chairperson Karen Smith-Bartlett echoed those sentiments, saying the economic impact wasn't the main reason for the city going after the championship.

"It's about the coverage we'll be getting," she said. "There will be media from all over the province and (cable television) will be broadcasting it."

The event is Feb. 12 to 18.

Doug Bakes, general manager of the Ontario Curling Association, said several centres bid. Two years ago, Sarnia held the provincial bantam competition.

"We like to give a city a chance to hold a smaller event to see how it does," Bakes said. "Sarnia proved it could hold an event like this."

The OSA has spread it around. In recent years, smaller communities have been selected in the belief those who live in smaller centres feel a greater community commitment to make the event a success.

"In the past few years, we've had the opportunity to go into some of the larger markets. A good example was in 2003 in Mississauga," Bakes said.

"Maybe we got lost in a large area. When we come to some of the smaller communities -- Whitby in 2004, last year in Guelph, in Woodstock -- some of the most successful events have been in the smaller communities."

"We're the prime event taking place that week," Bakes continued. "We don't have to worry about the (Toronto Maple) Leafs or the (Toronto) Raptors. We're competing with the local junior hockey team and they're on the road that week."

Dave Boyd is the other co-chairperson. He said the budget for the event is about $150,000 with the target for ticket sales about $80,000.

"We're being conservative in our ticket estimate," Boyd said.

The presence of a local team would make selling the event much easier, as would the presence of rinks like Wayne Middaugh and Glenn Howard. Since Sarnia is a border town, the host committee will also focus on attracting spectators from Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.

"The host committee bid on this event for several reasons," Bakes said. "They're trying to make a profit, whether small or large. Promoting the community from the economic standpoint is one reason. And it's a great opportunity to bring the membership of the host club a lot closer.

"You may not know someone who curls on Friday night if you curl on Tuesday."

The Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre is an ideal venue for this type of event with spectators right on top of five sheets of ice. The second ice pad will be used as a beer garden, vendor area and mixer.

The host committee is looking for about 200 volunteers. About 90 have registered.

More information, including tickets, can be obtained by going to kiacupontario2007.com.


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