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Penticton swept up in curling action

Niklas Edin of Sweden shouts out instructions to his teammates during the recent WGF Continental Cup curling at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Organizers were happy with the success of the event.   - Western News file photo
Niklas Edin of Sweden shouts out instructions to his teammates during the recent WGF Continental Cup curling at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Organizers were happy with the success of the event.
— image credit: Western News file photo

Though the Continental Cup didn’t generate as many ticket sales as expected, it’s still being hailed as a successful event by both the event managers and local organizers.

“The fans were light. But Saturday and Sunday were good, Friday night was good. But I think by the sounds of it, it probably averaged out to where they wanted to see the numbers,” said Kim Kirkham, chair of the host committee.

The event did carry a cost for Penticton, with a $55,000 grant in kind from the city to the host committee used to cover the costs of a 10-day rental of the South Okanagan Events Centre. The returns promised, however, were substantial.

“Money well spent and I can’t say enough about the people that were involved in it and how they portrayed Penticton,” said Mayor Dan Ashton. “We all want more attendance, but they were ecstatic with the facilities, the volunteers were unbelievable.”

Ashton notes that the event received close to 30 hours coverage on TSN, which included not only having the host city mentioned often, but briefs showing the city and “Penticton” in the ice every time a rock slid down the sheet.

“You can’t buy that kind of advertising for that price,” said Ashton, who said a representative from Las Vegas, where the 2014 Cup will be hosted, complimented not only how the Cup was handled, but the area.

“He couldn’t believe this area,” said Ashton, who responded with “and it only gets better, this is the worst time of the year to come, these three months. You ought to see what it is like the other nine months.”

According to the staff analysis presented to council when they upped the grant from the original $38,500 to $55,000, the event was expected to draw an attendance of 25,000 with an economic impact to the city of about $2 million. The SOEC was expecting to generate $150,000 in event cost revenues plus food, beverage and a percentage of merchandise sales.

Based on estimates from the Canadian Curling Association, Penticton’s host committee was also expected to receive upwards of $80,000, of which $27,500 would be paid back to the city to be held in a reserve account for future improvements to the Penticton Curling Club.

“We won’t be that high. Some of the events might have been around that mark, but definitely not our event,” said Kirkham. “We will get a portion of the 50/50 funds and a small portion of the ticket sales after all the expenses have come off.”

As a local non-profit organization, Kirkham said, they weren’t taking any financial risk, that was all on the part of the Canadian Curling Association.

“We didn’t have any risk, we only stand to gain something, of which a portion of our 50/50 will go back to the city, but the number I don’t know yet,” she said.

Dean Clarke, Global Spectrum’s general manager for the SOEC, was also pleased with the results of the event, which was a rental contract involving both the events centre and the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.

“I think it met its budgeted numbers as far as the buildings were concerned,” said Clarke, who said that thanks to previous experience with Continental Cups in the Global Spectrum family, they were well ahead of the curve in hosting the event.

“The CCA, they could not stop complimenting those three things: my staff; the building; and the local organizing committee,” said Clarke. “I think it has woken up Canadian Curling for bigger events. We did a great job, better than most, and we’ve got to be a part of that conversation now.”

Mark Ziebarth, chair of the SOEC select committee, said the decision to waive the rental fees for the Continental Cup did not come before the committee, but it would not be uncommon for the Global team to waive the rental fee for a guarantee of revenue from other directions.”

“We do it with the trade and convention centre all the time. The thinking being: ‘Hello, Mr. Association, you don’t have to pay the rental fee, as long as you guarantee $200,000 of food and beverage at your four-day event,’” said Ziebarth. “If the committee had a say in this, we would have encouraged them to try this, to work it out, but it just didn’t come to the committee.”

Even if the decision to waive rental fees had been a poor or marginal outcome, Ziebarth said it is necessary to try these events to see what works.

“It is the same kind of challenge we are going to face with Challenge Penticton, where we have to start, not quite from ground zero, but at a lower level and build it up,” said Ziebarth. “Barb Haynes (executive director for Challenge Penticton) and the city team are going to have to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. It’s the same thing with Global, they’re trying to see what will work and what won’t work.”

 

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