June 18th, 2024

Curling club bid gets SPC support

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 16, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Curling Club didn’t have to hurry hard to score a point with city council acting as Economic Standing Policy Committee on Thursday.

The committee voted unanimously to pass on a request to city council from the curling club to provide $900,000 from the Major Community Event Grant budget to support its effort to host the 2025 Canadian Curling Trials here.

Council will also be asked by the SPC to provide a letter of support from the City to host the event.

The presentation was made by Lethbridge Curling Club representatives Kirk Mearns and Mike Mulroy, co-chairs of the bid committee.

Mulroy said the trials, also known as Roar of the Rings, have been staged every four years since 1997, crowning a men’s and women’s champion to wear the Maple Leaf at the Winter Olympics the following year.

Saskatoon, which most recently hosted the event in 2021, despite still managing COVID restrictions saw attendance of over 107,000 people, plus millions of viewers on television and a substantial economic impact to the city.

The list of cities that have held the event is a short one.

Lethbridge would be the only city on that list – upon a successful bid – to have hosted all curling championships.

Mulroy said the city’s history of hosting championships include the 2007 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the 2012 Ford women worlds championship, 2017 world mixed doubles and seniors championships, 2019 world mens championships which had a record attendance of more than 69,000 people and the 2022 Tim Horton’s Brier which provided a major post-COVID boost to Lethbridge, Mulroy said.

An administration report presented to the SPC states there are significant economic and social benefits for the city by hosting such an event.

It says that economic impact is estimated to rival that of the 2022 Brier which generated about $16.8 million in economic activity to the area.

Administration has reviewed the curling club’s proposal “and believes it is in alignment with the intent of CC55 Major Community Event Hosting Policy and annual funding allocation to enhance the profile and visibility of Lethbridge, thereby contributing to the quality of life by assisting with funding to host major events,” says the report.

The report says no bidding fee is paid to Curling Canada and no money changes hands until accounting is done after the event concludes. If the club’s bid isn’t successful, there is no financial exposure to the City, says the report.

The report says Curling Canada will guarantee more than 2,000 room nights for their exclusive use which totals more than $300,000 in room revenue. Local retail outlets, restaurants and tourism attractions are also expected to benefit from the curling trials.

There is enough money in the Major Event Grant Program to fund the request, says the report. That $900,000 would utilize 90 per cent of available funding in the operating budget for 2023-26, it adds, which would leave $100,000 for other applicants.

Councillor Mark Campbell, among SPC members speaking in favor of the resolution, said he didn’t think the City could go wrong with supporting the bid.

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i like curling, and appreciate events being held here. however, 900k is a lot of our money. the folks most directly benefiting events such as this should be the ones pooling their money. it is after all a business venture foremost, and therefore it is interested businesses that should pony up. it is getting tiresome how often and easily public money is used as private business welfare.