Despite slow ticket sales on the eve of the 2013 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship in Victoria, organizers still believe the nine-day event will match the estimated $20 million in economic impact when the competition was held here in 2005.
The curling championship starts Saturday and continue to April 7, at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.
Ticket sales are dragging, said event co-chairman Keith Dagg.
“They are low. In 2005, we sold $1.5 million in tickets. This year I expect we will still be over $1 million, but we are sitting at about $700,000 right now,” he said.
There are a number of reasons why fewer people have bought tickets, Dagg said. He noted the novelty of a new arena — it opened just before the 2005 world championships began — has worn off and the Canadian entry — Brad Jacobs’ Northern Ontario rink — is from far afield.
“In 2005, no one had seen the arena yet, and everyone wanted to get a look at it,” he said. “We had virtually no walk-up sales in 2005 because we were virtually sold out. We sold out 17 of 21 games, and almost all of them were sold before we started.”
Dagg expects walk-up sales — not unusual for Victoria events — to increase significantly this time.
Also helping attendance in 2005 was having Alberta skip Randy Ferbey’s rink represent Canada.
“He was the defending world champion and was coming back, and he’s from Alberta,” Dagg said. That prompted a lot of Albertans to travel to Victoria to cheer on their team.
“A team from Northern Ontario may not have quite the draw that an Alberta champion would have,” Dagg said.
Still, he’s confident the stands will fill in as buzz grows.
“Opening weekend is not where it should be. But I believe we will have a really big walk-up crowd this time and, as for closing weekend, the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we are sitting at around 4,000 tickets sold already. So they will sell out,” he said.
But ticket sales are only a slice of the economic pie, and Dagg suggests much of the impact is difficult to quantify.
“In 2005 we had CBC broadcasting across Canada and to some parts of Europe. This year exposure has expanded — TSN is broadcasting every day and European TV is here broadcasting live every day, which is being picked up in China and Japan,” he said.
“Considering this is a tourism city, to have TV running all over the world three times a day for nine days, well you can’t buy that kind of publicity.”
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