Local sponsors give big boost to Scott tourney

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:30 PM ET

Local sponsors for a national curling event are a lot like offensive linemen in football -- without good ones, the star quarterback will take a pounding.

It's no different for the Scott Tournament of Hearts at the John Labatt Centre, which begins five weeks from today. While Scott Paper is the marquee name attached to the Canadian women's championship, a number of other corporate sponsors have ponied up to the tune of more than $350,000 in cash or in-kind services.

The task of lining them up fell to Sandra Kleinstiver, host committee vice-chair for business, and her committee -- Bob Clark, Rob Craig, Carol Hooper and Eleanor Leatham.

Kleinstiver said she was pleasantly surprised by the response, especially in light of the city having staged the Memorial Cup last May and the world transplant games last summer.

"We did encounter sponsor fatigue, but that made us have to work a little harder and be more creative in the packages we presented," she said yesterday. "And those who came to the table have been very generous."

There is one "diamond" sponsor (UPS Store) worth $50,000, four "platinum" worth $22,000 each, seven "gold" at $15,000 a pop, five "silver" at $10,000 apiece and seven "bronze" each worth $5,000. As well, Kleinstiver said 11 "friend" sponsorships have been landed at $2,500 apiece, with more available.

A sponsor's visibility in terms of rink signage, publication advertising and community billboards is directly tied to the level of sponsorship. As well, sponsors will have a greater chance to liaise with the players and have access to the sponsors' lounge.

"The biggest surprise was educating some of the sponsors in what the Scott Tournament of Hearts actually is, that they're actually supporting a national championship," Kleinstiver said.

Her committee is also responsible for ticket sales and on that score, Kleinstiver said more than 75,000 tickets have been sold to date. The goal of 2,500 full-event packages is within reach, she said, and the $120 championship weekend packages are selling quickly.

As well, single-draw tickets went on sale this week and the host committee is paying for 600 tickets a draw for the morning and afternoon draws Feb. 28-March 1 to be given to Grade 5 students from selected schools within the Thames Valley area to introduce them to the sport.

Kleinstiver's group is also responsible for public relations, promotions and daily publications, such as the Heart Chart newsletter and programs. The group is also launching a "Paint the Town Red" blitz of downtown businesses, featuring the Heartwalk along King Street between the JLC and the HeartStop Lounge at the convention centre.


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