Penticton is no stranger to hosting major sporting events, or events of any kind for that matter.
The list is a long one: Ironman, Penticton Peach Festival, Challenge Penticton, Vancouver Canucks Young Stars Classic, prospects camps, Multisport world championships, Canadian Sport School Hockey League Championship, the Super League triathlon this summer and more.
Still, there is palpable buzz in the city as we prepare to host the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the women’s national curling championship. That’s no doubt in part due to this being one of the larger events the city has hosted, but there is also the legendary status the Scotties Tournament of Hearts holds in the hearts of Canadians, even non-curling fans.
It’s especially fitting that we are hosting the Scotties in 2018, the year that the South Okanagan Events Centre celebrates its 10th anniversary this September.
There have been ups and downs over the years, not to mention the controversy before and during its construction. But overall, the SOEC has proved its value to the community. It’s been a good home to the Penticton Vees, of course, but it’s also been a major economic driver for the community. Without the SOEC, Penticton would not have been considered for events like the Scotties, which is drawing thousands of fans, competitors and their support teams from across the country.
Fans that will spill out of the SOEC into the community (luckily, we seem to be getting a break in the winter weather, just in time) spending at local stores, restaurants and other venues. It’s also a lot of people that may be getting a look at Penticton for the first time, whether in person or the national broadcasts of the matches.
And that’s really the key to these events. They’re fun to have and to host, evidenced by the 300-plus local volunteers that signed up), but they’re also the time to show people our community, and make sure they have lots of reasons to come back, over and over.