Heading into the championship draw at the 2017 Tim Horton’s Brier, we had an opportunity to sit down with Vice-Chair of Facilities and Chair of the St. John’s Brier 2017 Bid Committee Eugene Trickett to discuss how St. John’s landed this year’s Brier, the successes and challenges throughout the week, and the economic impact the event has had on the City of St. John’s.
- Eugene also served as VP Facilities for the 2005 Scotties Tournaments of Hearts held in St. John’s and has been involved as a curling executive member and volunteer for over 30 years. Eugene is a three time Brier participant and has coached in several Canadian Junior Championships and Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
- The idea for a St. John’s Brier originated when Curling Canada announced they were going to Kamloops in 2014.
- As part of their bid, St. John’s sold 2,187 ticket deposits which they converted 1,800 into full event passes.
“It started when Curling Canada announced they were going to Kamloops (in 2014). And it was actually Brad (Gushue) who then tweeted ‘well if they can go to Kamloops, they can come to St. John’s.'”
- On Day 1, the organizing committee had 200 of the 500 volunteers needed for the event. They ended up with 540 volunteers who handled everything from stats to bartending at the Brier Patch.
- The Brier Patch was well attended throughout the week and that presented some (good) challenges due to a smaller capacity of 2,200 at the St. John’s Convention Centre. However, being conveniently located downtown, there was plenty of overflow options for fans. Eugene also mentioned that the demands of the 10-day Brier created stress at times on the Mile One Centre staff.
- A key for Brier 2017 was that the City of St. John’s took it upon themselves to work with Curling Canada and TSN. They invested in marketing and provided a lot of information that helped profile the city and raise expectations for fans planning to visit.
- Eugene figures the Brier attracted approximately 2,000 visitors to the City of St. John’s. At the conclusion of this year’s Brier, Curling Canada and Destination St. John’s will complete an analysis to get a better idea of the economic impact.
- Bigger Briers usually generate $15-20 million for the host city. Eugene figures the St. John’s Brier will be in the $10-$12 million range and will become a model Curling Canada adapts for smaller communities looking to host future Briers.
- According to Eugene, the biggest difference between the Scotties and the Brier is the fans it attracts. People who go to the Scotties are mostly curling fans who are tied to the curlers. The Brier is a mix of curling fans and people looking to enjoy the social aspect of the event.
6,481 fans, about 200 over capacity, packed Mile One Centre on Sunday night to see Team NL capture the province’s first Brier since 1976 (and second ever) with a 7-6 win against Team Canada. In total, the event drew 122,592 fans, 7,495 ahead of Ottawa last year and on par with 10,000 seat venues such as Halifax in 2010 and London in 2011.