Curl Manitoba plans to slide past the most recent disappointments to aim for the most desired curling event in Canada.
Undaunted by the fact that Winnipeg played host to one of the most disappointing Briers held in the West recently and dwindling interest in the most recent men's Grand Slam events held here, the association is actively working on a bid to land the 2013 Canadian Curling Trials, which would be held at the MTS Centre.
"It's been a while since we've had an event -- the 2008 Brier was obviously the last one we had -- and we think
we're due for an event," Curl Manitoba executive director Shane Ray said at Wednesday's launch of the 2010-11 season. "We think we're going to put forth a very strong bid if we can get our ducks lined up. So, we're pretty excited by it. We think we have a very good shot."
The 2008 Brier drew about 165,000 spectators, which pales in comparison to the 281,985 record that Edmonton drew for the 2005 Brier.
"I think they are very diffe-ent events," Ray said. "Obviously, the Brier is the top men's teams in the world but, on the flip side, the Olympic trials, you're going to see the top eight women's teams and the top eight men's not only in the world but obviously, Canada as well. So, we think this is going to be huge.
"We saw the impact that curling had on the last Olympics and we think that's going to carry through so, hopefully, we can do some decent numbers and put something together that's going to be good for the Olympic trials. I mean, Edmonton did about 170,000 for the Olympic trials and we think that we can match that, if not exceed it."
Edmonton drew a record 175,852 for the 2009 trials.
Winnipeg could have an advantage because the only other cities with arenas with the minimum 10,500 seats either have or will host other major curling events in the interim. But Ray does not know how many bids the Canadian Curling Association is expecting and a CCA rep could not be reached for comment.
Curl Manitoba needs to pony up a minimum of $750,000 for the rights fee to be submitted by Nov. 15, 2010. An official decision would be made in January 2011.
"They're (CCA) encouraging higher numbers," Ray said. "We're just going to work through that with some of our partners -- what we think it's going to take to get that. Our understanding is that Edmonton put forward $900,000 for the last Olympic trials, so we're thinking it will probably take around that. That's kind of our goal right now -- to at least meet that number or come close to it."
Ray added that hosting such a major event could have an economic impact of more than $24 million on the province. Curl Manitoba has already approached both the provincial and city governments about the bid.
"So far, everyone's very open and thinks this is a great idea and a great opportunity," Ray said.
If Curl Manitoba fails to line up everything necessary for the bid, it will try to land other major curling events, such as a world championship or another Brier.
"If we can't get what we need together, we probably won't submit a bid," Ray said. "But we're optimistic from what our partners have said to us. They believe it's worth it."