Next Brier host eyes attendance record

PATRICK MALONEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:27 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- As the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier draws near a close in London, the work is already underway for next year's edition.

Organizers from Saskatoon, the 2012 host city, have been in London all week, observing this year's tournament and refining plans for what they hope will be a record-setting event next year.

"We're hoping to come close to the (all-time Brier) attendance record," said Kerry Tarasoff, chair of the 2012 organizing committee.

The record, 281,000 tickets sold in Edmonton in 2005, is in Saskatoon's sights.

With 14,000 seats in Saskatoon's Credit Union Centre -- 3,000 more, thanks to a renovation, than during the last Saskatoon Brier — they'd need about 12,800 fans per draw to break the record.

Possible? Sure it is.

That speaks to the Brier divide between Ontario and the Prairie provinces.

London's edition, while considered a success, has sold about 120,000 tickets. Saskatoon will sell more than twice that many.

While the Brier is underwritten by the Canadian Curling Association, it's pulled off by local volunteer organizing committees — in London, for example, that army of 500 was led by Peter Inch.

Tarasoff has been involved in previous Saskatoon Briers, but this will be his first time at the helm, basically as that city's equivalent of Inch.

Things will actually be easier than in past years, he figures, with the CCA having taken over duties relating to sponsorship and finances.

"The CCA has taken more of a management role," Tarasoff said. "They need to have control over those areas.

"They're the guys who take the risk. If the thing loses money, they're the ones who write the cheque."

Tarasoff has been impressed with the London Brier, notably by the hundreds of volunteers who chipped in this week.

"I know London wanted to put on a good show. I think they've accomplished that," he said. "The volunteer group has been phenomenal."

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