Organizer Inch sad party's over

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

It's an hour before the national women's curling final and the crowd of 6,674 is already starting to file into the John Labatt Centre.

Peter Inch looks around, a smile on his face. But the head of the organizing committee for this year's Scott Tournament of Hearts is experiencing mixed emotions as the project that has dominated his time for the last 18 months draws to a close.

"I woke up this morning a little sad," he said. "Not sad for the 18 months of preparation, but for the last 10 days of friendship and working with such great people. In three hours, it's all going to be over and I've had a little tear in my eyes a couple of times today thinking about that."

What pleases Inch the most was the huge effort put forth by the volunteers.

"We had 550 people here who weren't getting a cent working their hearts out," he said. "It's amazing what people can do when they want to get involved. And the executive committee and the 25 directors were wonderful."

Being as objective as possible, Inch said there wasn't much he or his committee would have changed.

"I think it's been very successful. I've got no regrets," he said. "The only thing we might do differently is make the HeartStop Lounge not so big all week, start out a little smaller early on and make it bigger as the week progressed.

"But the crowds have been great, the curlers have put on a show and the businesses around here have been winning."

So what's next?

"My goal would be an Olympic trials or a Brier, but the Continental Cup wouldn't be bad, either," Inch said. "We've got to thank Regina for getting the Brier this year because it allows the markets with the smaller arenas the chance to hold one.

"But we need to get moving pretty soon. I don't want the memories of this to fade."

Whatever event is next to visit the JLC, Inch said it won't be for a couple of years at least to give the volunteer base time to re-energize.

But the fact this year's Hearts was the third-largest in terms of total attendance with 105,065 is proof London, with its arena jewel, can pull it off.

"Now we've shown them there is a market here," Inch said. "We built it and they came. The curlers came and the fans came. You can put all the time and effort into it you want, but if the stands are empty, it leaves a hollow feeling in your stomach."


Videos

Photos