BY BILL PHILLIPS
If we hurry. If we work hard. If we have just the right draw weight, we might be able to sweep away the other contenders and bring another major sporting event into the house.
Mayor Lyn Hall announced Thursday morning that Prince George is bidding to host the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier, often referred to as ‘Canada’s greatest winter party.’
“The Tim Horton’s Brier is Canadian men’s curling championship,” said Hall, decked out in some fine looking, but loud, curling pants. “It’s recognized as one of the world’s premier curling championships. The year is the 100th anniversary of the first curling club in Prince George and the 125 anniversary of curling in British Columbia. For the first time we want to bring the brier to northern B.C.”
The brier is traditionally held in late February, early March every year. The city has already hosted the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in 1983, the national women’s championships in 2000, and the Road to the Roar Olympic curling qualification tournament in 2009.
“Arguably the brier can be the most prominent sporting event the city has ever hosted,” said Hall, which is saying something given the city hosted the 2015 Canada Winter Games. The brier dates back to 1927 and attracts spectators from around the country. Hall said the brier in St. John’s, Newfoundland resulted in a $15 million boost to the local economy.
It’s exciting and welcome news for one of Prince George’s best known curlers, Patti Knezevic who is the 2015 B.C. Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion.
“We have a great opportunity, as a city, to encourage all of our outlying communities, that this is a great opportunity,” he said. “We’ve certainly proven time and time again that we have the volunteer base to run this size of event. The big goal is to make sure we can fill these seats.”
Filling the seats is a big part of convincing the tournament organizers that Prince George can host such an event. They want to see more than a good Power Point presentation and wonderful videos, they want to see commitment. And that means ticket sales.
“Today we are launching our campaign to sell refundable $20.20 deposits on Tim Horton’s Brier tickets,” said CN Centre general manager Glen Mikkelsen. “We want to show Curling Canada that Prince George is the unsurpassed community to host the 2020 brier.”
The goal is to, by April 15, sell a minimum of 2,020 tickets.
“That’s a lot of 20-20,” he said. “But if we can sell 3,030 or 4,040 we can, for sure, tell Curling Canada that we are the place to host the brier.”
Purchasing a tournament pass reserves a seat to all draws of the brier including the playoffs and final game, and to some perhaps most importantly, provides access to the celebrated “Brier Patch” – the beating heart of the tournament party every year.
The $20.20 deposits are available online at www.ticketsnorth.ca, or by phone at 1-888-293-6613. In addition, everyone who buys a 2020 Brier ticket deposit will have their name entered in a draw to win four tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s CRYSTAL for opening night on Wednesday, April 25.
Ticket prices are still undetermined, though the Full Event Package at the 2018 Brier is $499. All ticket deposits will be refunded should Prince George not win the 2020 Brier. However, if the bid is successful, deposits will not be refunded.
Prince George’s bid must be submitted to Curling Canada by June 30, 2018. The successful bid is expected to be announced sometime this fall. The 2020 Brier is likely to be held from February 28 to March 9 of that year.
Tourism Prince George’s CEO Erica Hummel said events such as the brier provide a huge economic boost to the community.
“The positive impacts of an event like this will not only affect our community, but will be shared throughout the North,” she said.