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Without sponsorship, outlook bleak for Kamloops Crown of Curling
The Kamloops Crown of Curling has been around since 1974, but there is no guarantee it will exist in 2015.
“Unless we can find a title sponsor, I would say the event is at risk,” said Frank Mayhood, chair of the World Curling Tour (WCT) cashspiel, which gets underway at Kamloops Curling Club (KCC) on Friday, Oct. 18, and wraps up on Monday, Oct. 21.
“We’re losing money as a club on this event. How much, I’m not quite sure yet, but we are going to lose money.”
The 40th running of the Crown will feature 40 entrants — 22 women’s teams and 18 men’s rinks. Mayhood was gunning for 24 on each side.
“There are lots of international teams, but not a lot of the big-name Canadian teams,” Mayhood said.
“The next week is the first of the [WCT Masters of Curling] Grand Slams, so a lot of them are taking the week off.”
Sponsorship money has been tough to come by, said Mayhood, who jumped into the chairman’s role in June when then-chair Len Bosch was offered and accepted the position of vice-chair for the 2014 Tim Hortons Brier.
“When you start late and you don’t have a title sponsor, you’re down a whole bunch of fundraising and it’s a little bit frustrating,” Mayhood said.
“The club [KCC] is essentially doing the title-sponsor role.”
Valley First was the title sponsor of the 2012 Crown, but has since stepped away. Title sponsors for the event supply between $7,500 and $10,000.
The women’s bracket this year will feature international squads from China, Korea, Japan, Denmark, Switzerland and the U.S., along with two Kamloops rinks, skipped by Allison MacInnes and Corryn Brown.
Representing the Tournament Capital on the men’s side are Darren Nelson, Grant Olsen, Brad Thompson and Brent Yamada.
The semifinals are slated for 12:30 p.m. on Monday, with the championship matchups to follow at 4 p.m.
For a complete schedule, go online to worldcurl.com.
Top prize on the women’s side is $7,500, with the winning men’s rink set to take home $7,000. The total tournament purse is $60,000.
The 2012 champions were Bingyu Wang of China and Brent Pierce of New Westminster.
Mayhood said it would be tough to resuscitate the tournament if it were to take a year off.
“On the World Curling Tour these days, if you lose your weekend, then somebody else jumps in and gets people used to coming to their rink,” he said.
“These teams are creatures of habit. They make up their schedules months or years in advance so, if you’re not part of their schedule, it’s tough to get on.”
A 40-year history is not the only reason why it would be a shame to lose the Crown.
The tournament still features high-quality curling, with ranking points up for grabs, along with the cash.
“There are WCT-team ranking points and, in an Olympic year, there are Canadian-team ranking points, which lead to getting into the final competition to make the Olympics,” Mayhood said.
“And, if you’re going to build yourself into an elite team, you have to start somewhere and these cashspiels are a training ground for competitive curling, to see if you’re worth sponsorship, which you need to travel the country full-time.”