Ontario Tankard--Barrie is perfect
This is the first time that the Dominion Tankard men's provincial curling championships will be held in Barrie. Action runs from Feb. 4-10.
They are hosting the Tankard at the Barrie Molson Centre, which is a beautiful and modern venue. It's home of the OHL's Barrie Colts.
I think Barrie will be a great host for a number of reasons.
The last time the Tankard was held in a large venue was 2007, when the provincial championship was held at Sarnia's Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre (now called RBC Centre).
I presume it must be a tough decision for the Ontario Curling Association whether to go big or go small for venues. If you go big it could look a bit empty on television. If you go small, you might have the same problem that the Kitchener-Waterloo Curling Club when hosting the Ontario Scotties last week. From people I talked to, they said it was packed and seats (especially VIP seats) were hard to come by.
Hopefully the Dominion Tankard is a success. I would love to see a crowd of 3,000-4,000 at the final.
Barrie is a perfect host for a number of reasons.
One: Close to Toronto: In case you haven't heard, Toronto is the centre of the universe. It's also the media capital of Canada. Mid-sized newspapers and radio do a good job covering curling in the province. Kudos to London Free Press and Kitchener Record and other medium sized daily and weekly papers such as Woodstock, Mississauga, Stratford and Wallaceburg that do a good job covering curling.
I've found the large Toronto newspapers and radio stations are hit and miss when it comes to curling. It's not their fault, they have to report on important issues like the Toronto Maple Leafs morning skate and the status of Colton Orr.
Two: Junior A hockey rink: Being in a large venue where they play OHL hockey makes it look like a professional event. I've chided the OCA this week for their duct tape follies, but with television coverage, and a good organization in place, the provincial finals has the opportunity to be a premier event.
Three: Central location: A lot of people are coming from all over the province. Ottawa is only about five hours. Hamilton is an hour and a half, same with Guelph/Kitchener and Waterloo. London is two hours away.
With a central location it makes it fun to load up the car, see a couple draws of curling and still be home before midnight.
Four: Howard factor: When you've won the past seven titles you can call the shots. Midland, Meaford and Port Carling are all close by and for Team Howard it's like a homecoming. After years of being the New York Yankees of the Ontario curling scene, Team Howard plays in Barrie and will have a large number of friends, family and fans on hand.
Cheering for Team Howard is like going to Casino Rama and cheering for the blackjack dealers. However, Barrie will be different. It will be Howardpalooza, and that's okay. They deserve it.
I thought Stratford did a great job of hosting the provincials last year and deserve to be in the rotation to host the event every 10 years.
Smith Falls is scheduled to host the Tankard in 2014.
If Barrie is a success, I would go as far to say that they should host it at least every five years. It has a lot going for it.
In the past the OCA has held the event in smaller cities and venues. Stratford (2012), Grimsby (2011), Napanee (2010), Woodstock (2009), Waterloo (2008).
It would be nice to see 10,000 people fill the Molson Centre during the week. It would be awesome if the draws brought in about 500 fans, the playoffs games around 1,500-2,000 fans and the final brought in close to a full house. That would bring in about 15-16,000 people.
Ticket packages are already on sale at the Barrie Molson Centre box office, by phoning TicketPro at 1-888-655-9090 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Individual tickets will go on sale Saturday.
I will preview the field this weekend.
For more information, visit www.thedominiontankard2013.ca.
For a television schedule, go here: