The first Grand Slam of the year is taking place this weekend, as The Masters of Curling, which runs from Oct. 30-Nov. 4 in Abbotsford, B.C.is taking place.
To be honest, I haven't watched too much yet. I watched for about ten minutes at the curling rink after I played on Friday night.
One of my playing partners was watching with me and he joked about the crowd--let's just say there were a lot of empty seats, or perhaps a lot of people dressed up as empty seats.
Most Grand Slams have a lot of empty seats. This is nothing new.
Hear's my wacky out-of-the-box idea--let people in for free. Just open the doors and let people in off the street.
Here's my reasoning. These events aren't really about the crowd watching in person, they're more for the curling fan watching at home in his/her LazyBoy chair.
When I went to my only Grand Slam event in Windsor a few years ago there might have only been about 750 people in the stands. Judging from the fans around me, most of them received comp tickets or they were with the players (spouses/relatives/curling groupies) and got in for free. Not sure how many paid, but it couldn't have been a huge number.
I paid at the door. For my wife and I and two kids it cost us $96. A bit pricy in my mind for a night out. Would I pay that much again if a Grand Slam event came back my way? Probably not, and I am a hardcore curling fan. Probably better to save some money and watch from home.
It was a fun event, and the kids had fun, but with the arena only about 10 percent full, the energy in the building was lacking. Nothing beats a Brier or Scotties, and that's partially due to the (paying) crowds.
My idea would be to let everybody in, especially for the early draws. I know that something that has no value is not worth as much, but at least the seats would be full and people would stop making jokes as they saw all the empty seats on television.
Create an event and an atmosphere and the people will come.
Below is the press release hyping up this weekend's event:
Following a thrilling quarter-final round this afternoon that saw eight teams eliminated, the Masters continued tonight with semifinal action live from the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre in Abbotsford, beginning with the men’s draw at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific (full broadcast details below).
In the men’s draw, Team Howard faces Team Stoughton - the pair accounting for three of the four Grand Slam titles last year. In the other half of the semis, Team Martin will face Team Liu - a rematch of the first draw of the Masters that saw Liu come out on top.
On the women’s side, after a tie-break win over Team Carey, Team Homan defeated Team Nedohin to advance to her third straight Grand Slam semifinal, and will now face Team Ott who beat out Team Kim of Korea. The other semifinal matchup will feature last April’s Players’ Championship winner Team Muirhead of Scotland taking on Team Jones of Winnipeg.
1. Team Howard, Clearwater, ON (5-0) vs. Team Stoughton, Winnipeg, MB (4-1)
2. Team Martin, Edmonton, AB (4-1) vs. Team Liu, Harbin, China (4-1)
1. Team Homan, Ottawa, ON (3-2) vs. Team Ott, Davos, Switzerland (4-1)
2. Team Jones, Winnipeg, MB (4-1) vs. Team Muirhead, Perth, Scotland (3-2)
The Masters Broadcast Schedule
Note: Through a sub-licensing agreement, the broadcast of the Grand Slam of Curling is shared with CBC.
Saturday, Nov. 2
· Men’s semifinals, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West, and Pacific)
· Women’s semifinals, 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT (Sportsnet East, Ontario, West, and Pacific)
Sunday, Nov. 3
· Men’s final, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (CBC)
· Women’s final, 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT (Sportsnet ONE)