Fans praise Brier experience

PATRICK MALONEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

As London said goodbye Sunday to the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier, visitors drawn to the city for the big-league bonspiel could have collectively summed up the experience in three words.

Pretty darn good.

Curling fans who spent the past week in London had kind words for event organizers and the Forest City, which combined to help produce a sporting spectacle that met most expectations.

"We've been to quite a few Briers and London's done a pretty good job," said Grant Hardman, a 57-year-old Calgarian. "It would have been nice to have seen more attendance during the week, but the weekend's been better."

Hardman, who visited London with Rick Green, 51, said the organizing committee turned in a solid performance all week.

The most important part for fans, both agreed, is the Brier Patch -- the event's official off-site party zone. It was in a London Convention Centre room that fits more than 2,000.

Green said London's compares well to those in other host cities.

"In Halifax (last year), it was too small," he said. "In Halifax if you didn't leave the game early, you weren't getting in.

"(There was) lots of room" in London.

There was some grumbling that the Patch was too far from the rink -- there are a few blocks between it and the John Labatt Centre -- but Green and Hardman praised the Brier's shuttle service for fans.

The success of the Patch, though, may not be great news for downtown bars that likely expected a bigger boost in business during the past week.

Londoners in general left a friendly impression with most visitors.

"This year has been great. Everybody's so friendly," said Jackie Trentham, 33, from the small Alberta community of Three Hills. "They did an excellent job."

Things weren't perfect, though, with the highest-profile problem cropping up in downtown parking lots, where some complained about the $20 fee.

On Sunday, however, it appeared most fans were leaving the city with a positive experience.

E-mail patrick.maloney@sunmedia.ca, read Pat's blog or follow Patatlfpress on Twitter.


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