Once proud to promote itself as the 'Curling Capital of the World,' Manitoba can only take solace in a seventh-place finish in terms of attendance at the 2008 Brier.
As a result, the Brier committee realized a profit of only $449,002.62, host chairman Barry Greenberg finally revealed yesterday.
That is a far cry from the $1 million-plus profits posted in Edmonton, Calgary and Saskatoon.
"We'd probably be happier if we had a larger surplus," Greenberg conceded. "But it's quite dependent on the number of people that attend and based on the attendance that we received and the way the balance is structured, we (are pleased we) generated the surplus that we did."
The Brier drew a grand total of 165,075 fans, which was well below the 200,000 benchmark for Brier success. For example, Edmonton drew a record 281,985 in 2005 and 242,887 in 1999. Calgary boasted 245,296 in 2002. Even a smaller city like Saskatoon drew 238,129 in 2004 and 248,793 in 2000.
"It was similar to what we thought we might receive," Greenberg said. "It was similar to the (2003) Worlds, actually. So, in today's times, I'm not sure we're dealing with a growing population base in terms of curling. In general terms, we're satisfied, although we would have liked to have achieved more."
Manitoba will not exactly use this result as a springboard to land more major curling events. There has been no talk of bidding on either a Worlds or Scotties Tournament of Hearts, said MCA executive director Shane Ray.
"I think it's going to be a challenge in the future for events to increase the base," Greenberg said. "Perhaps, there are new and inventive ways that will bring more people to the facility. To generate a larger surplus, we may have to change the way things are done a little bit, and I think that's an ongoing challenge."
The only major curling events will be coming here the next two years are the Grand Slam stops, although that could change.
Only 35% of the Brier profit, or $157,150.92, stays in Manitoba with the rest going to the Canadian Curling Association. Half of what remains, or $78,575.46, goes to the MCA, with the other half shared among the curling clubs that sold Brier tickets under the Quote Your Code program.
"This is huge for Manitoba curling," Ray said. "This spells out the benefits to holding a major event like the Brier ... This is why you want to host a major event like the Brier. And it had an economic spinoff of about $20 million. It's just great. We're very excited about it ... That's a huge amount of money coming into the clubs."
The Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame got $29,185.17 richer from the sales of 50-50 tickets during the Brier. The Sandra Schmirler Foundation also gave $32,000 to the Children's Hospital Foundation.
"I'm not disappointed at all in the amount," Ray said. "I know that Winnipeg is a great curling town and will continue to be the curling capital of not only Manitoba but the world. I think the next time we host it, it's a challenge that goes out to Manitoba curling fans."
The next time?
"I imagine that conversation will start very soon," Ray said.