This is starting to look disastrous.
Only 72 teams have entered the 2007 Safeway Select city zone playdowns, the lowest number in modern Manitoba Curling Association history. That is 19 fewer teams than were entered last year and 43 less than the 105 that signed up just two years ago, said MCA executive director Ian Staniloff.
'LOST SOME TEAMS'
This comes on the heels of only 17 teams entered in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts city zone playdowns, 13 in the junior women's city playdowns and only seven in the senior women's city zone playdowns.
"The trend is continuing," Staniloff said before the MCA office took its Christmas break Friday. "Certainly, we have lost some teams, like the senior men's, because they need more than one competitive card now."
To enter each different category, a curler must buy a different CCA card at $35 each or $175 per team (including a fifth man).
"It's always a concern because we don't want to see a drop in any division," Staniloff admitted. "But there seems to be a greater division between the top club curlers and the elite players. That's just the nature of the game ... It's boiling down to the best teams spending the time and the money and separating themselves from the rest. So you expect the numbers to be down because of that."
A number of teams that played in the city zones last year have entered rural zones this time. For example, Mike McEwen has played out of Brandon all year while both Mark Lukowich and Reid Carruthers have moved to zones where new teammates live. So while the city zone entries are down, the overall rural entries may be up once all of the numbers are tallied.
"We'll still have 10-plus teams per (city) zone and the teams that are playing in it are all good so they will be tough zones," Staniloff said. "The concern is that we don't have the numbers that create the kind of publicity we want."
The deadline for entries into the MCA's annual men's bonspiel is Jan. 4, 2007.