As Sweden and Canada took the main stage in front of a full house at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Sunday afternoon, forecasters had already started casting their predictions for Victoria’s next big curling event.
A conservative estimate of 5,500 fans took in Sweden’s 8-6 win over Canada’s Brad Jacobs rink in the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship final.
Open seats in the converted hockey arena had been tough to find since Friday night’s Page playoff game that saw Sweden narrowly edge Scotland 6-5 to advance to the gold medal final.
The big question came Friday night, said World Men’s Championship co-chair Chris Atchison.
“We knew we sold a lot of tickets for that game, but if Canada’s not in the game, (we wondered) are people going to show up? And the people showed up. From that point on this venue was at, or near, capacity,” he said.
“There was some comparisons made for (our lower) attendance, but we know as a hosting committee we did virtually as much as we could to attract (fans). From our point of view, we can’t worry about those things we can’t control.”
Unofficial figures released Monday showed approximately 80,000 spectators attended the tournament.
But even if they didn’t match the 2005 world men’s numbers in Victoria – 17 of 22 draws sold out that year, with the total at around 100,000 fans – organizers characterise the 2013 event as a success.
And so talks turned Sunday to the Tim Horton’s Brier men’s national championship. Kamloops is hosting in 2014, but Atchison hopes Victoria is in line the next time the Brier returns to B.C.
It hasn’t been in Victoria since 1984.
“(The Brier) is the natural thing we’d look at in this community,” Atchison said. “We need to take time to (debrief and reflect) on what we did well this time, but it’s the natural progression of events. Comments from the Canadian Curling Association were that they like this venue.”
Talk of securing the Brier is nothing new for Victoria. Landing the prestigious event was the buzz coming out of the incredibly successful 2005 World Men’s Curling Championship, the first sporting event held at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
Victoria also hosted the 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts Canadian women’s championship to great success, a scenario that helped lead to the return of the Ford World Men’s Championships.
Given the Canadian Curling Association’s protocol for alternating the Brier site, Victoria will likely have to watch the event weave its way through Eastern and Central Canada this decade before realistically hosting its third Brier.
The city hosted the event in 1958 and 1984.
Extra duty for Team Canada
Credit Team Canada once again for helping promote the world championship tournament by playing extra games.
In 2005, Randy Ferbey’s Team Canada rink not only won the tournament, it needed a tiebreaker to get into the Page playoffs, the first year that system was used.
It meant Canada played an additional two sudden-death games before the semifinal and final.
This time around the Brad Jacobs rink caught Victoria and the world’s attention by winning its first five games. After creating a buzz, the Jacobs rink slipped to third place, necessitating an extra draw.
Canada won its Page playoff game 8-6 over Denmark on Saturday to advance to that night’s semifinal, where Jacobs and company beat Scotland 6-3.