London would take Brier again in a heartbeat

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:22 PM ET

LONDON - If the Brier wants to come back, we'll take it.

Let's face it, any time a city like London can get a major event, it's a good thing, especially in the winter.

Not only does it help pass the time but the city also does a remarkably good job of supporting big events.

The 2011 Brier was one of those nice events that helps pass the time.

The curling was good. The storyline was interesting. The dominant team in curling, Kevin Martin, went down to defeat. Jeff Stoughton who for years had worked to win another Brier worked his way back to the final. Glenn Howard gave the hometown fans something to cheer about.

The most remarkable thing about the week was the weather -- everything from sun to snow to rain. The humidity threatened to wreak havoc with the ice but the icemakers did a remarkable job.

Aside from that, everything else was unremarkable.

For a Brier in Eastern Canada, attendance was about where you would expect. London drew somewhere in area of 115,000. The hope was that the figure would be closer to 140,000. That was a little more than Hamilton and Halifax but about 20,000 less than Ottawa.

On the right side of the ledger, this Brier ran smoothly, presenting few problems. As far as income, the London's Brier patch easily outperformed most of the Brier's in the east.

As far as television is concerned, a Brier sellout of about 8,200 in the final on Sunday looked outstanding on TV, a lot better than 8,200 would have looked in the 19,000-seat Copps Coliseum in Hamilton.

But that is the burden of trying to put on a major curling event anywhere east of Winnipeg. With the Brier being the major moneymaker for the Canadian Curling Association, they've got to see cash, no matter how well received or well run the Brier is.

"We got some good support from government and this will be a profitable Brier for us," said Warren Hansen, a director of the CCA .

Hansen admitted that it was difficult to schedule an event that he knew might struggle in the east when it's a guaranteed success in the west.

"But it's our goal to stage a Brier in every region every 10 years," he said. "But over the last 10 years, we may have stretched it a little by staging it in the east maybe a few too many times."

That said, Hansen said he wouldn't have any problem coming back to London.

"This is a facility that could hold three of our events," he said.

And if they come back, they will be relatively successful.

But where does this type of event rank among the most memorable in London?

Any event in any city benefits a great deal when a local is in the midst of the competition.

While the fans at the John Labatt Centre adopted Howard as their favourite, it wasn't the same as previous major events in London where the local could cheer for their own, where they could buy tickets on a daily basis to support those athletes.

That's why the Brier paled in comparison on a local level to the Memorial Cup. With the London Knights participating, it was a week-long celebration, not only in the rink but all over town.

In 2010 when the Canadian figure skating championships came to town the event was owned by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. They generated great excitement not only for their discipline but also for the rest of the disciplines.

The Brier fits in somewhere after those two events.

And whether it's the Brier, Olympic Trials or Scotties, those events will fit in nicely and be successful enough to come back to London every five or six years.

E-mail morris.dallacosta@sunmedia.ca, or follow MoDaCoatlfpress on Twitter.


Photos