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Curling club lauds Grand Slam success

Val Sweeting’s team capped a strong Tour Challenge with a Tier 1 victory and Grand Slam title at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook in November. Meanwhile, Jacqueline Harrison’s squad took the Tier 2 women’s final.   - Barry Coulter photo
Val Sweeting’s team capped a strong Tour Challenge with a Tier 1 victory and Grand Slam title at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook in November. Meanwhile, Jacqueline Harrison’s squad took the Tier 2 women’s final.
— image credit: Barry Coulter photo

The Grand Slam of Curling was a huge success, according to Rick O'Neil, the president of the Cranbrook Curling Club, who gave an update to city council on Monday night.

The event, through the social house, turned a small profit for the club, which was able to cover it's $140,000 sponsorship requirement to Sportsnet, with some help from the city.

However, the true benefits of hosting the event is getting Cranbrook's name on the map for future tournaments and the possibility of Sportsnet returning in three or four years, said O'Neil.

"We made a small profit, but in the economic value of what we did for the community was unprecedented," O'Neil said. "...Sportsnet gave us a golden handshake and said within three or four years, if we wanted, we could probably have another one. Not the 60-team, but probably a 30- or 15-team [event].

While the club turned a small profit, it was the business community — hotels, restaurants, and the Canadian Rockies International Airport — that reaped the economic benefits of the event, O'Neil said.

"We came to the conclusion that five of the largest hotels in town were fully booked for seven days. At the restaurant end of things, the majority of them were booked or overbooked for seven days," said O'Neil.

"…In terms of economics for the area, it was phenomenal. We have not included Kimberley or included any of the outside areas, which saw an increase in volume of people."

TV exposure is always a good thing, O'Neil said, estimating that Cranbrook got between 18-20 hours of broadcast coverage, which is worth a few hundred thousand dollars in advertising.

The event was pitched by the Cranbrook Curling Club, with the support of the city, to Sportsnet, in 2015. The 60-team event was awarded to the city in February last year, with curling legend Kevin Martin coming to town to drum up support.

"When we started this, the city, we said we'd put up some of the guarantee too and I said at that time I wasn't really concerned if we lost a little bit of money because of the economic spinoff that was coming to the community and I felt that we owed that to the business community," said Pratt.

Over 230 volunteers helped out over the course of the event, logging 13,500 hours.

In addition to the Tour Challenge, the event also helped bring in the Wall Grain Mixed Doubles Classic, which was hosted by the Kimberley Curling Club rink, as the Cranbrook sheets at Western Financial Place and the Memorial Arena were occupied.

The Tour Challenge featured two tiers of competition; the first tier featured the world's top 15 mens and women's teams in the world, while the second tier also included 30 top-flight curling teams.

Team Edin of Sweden captured the Tier One men's championship, while Alberta's Team Sweeting took the women's title. Team Balsdon, hailing from Ontario, took the Tier Two title, while Team Harrison won the Tier Two women's championship.

 

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