The best curlers in Canada will rock the capital this weekend at the Tim Hortons Brier, and their fans are expected to give the local economy a big boost.
The Brier is expected to draw 90,000 fans, with more than 3,000 visitors booked into hotel rooms.
Curling Canada estimates the event will pump between $15 million and $20 million into the local economy.
Big score for TD Place
"It's good for our restaurants, it's good for the Glebe, for the neighbourhood, it's good for the Bank St. retailers and restaurants," said Bernie Ashe, chief executive of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. "Just the volume of people who will here at the site at this time a year is a real bonus."
Ashe said OSEG worked hard to land the curling event because they knew the event would attract a large number of people to Lansdowne Park, many for the first time.
"We pitched this about three years ago, long before we were finished construction," said Ashe, who led a tour of representatives from Curling Canada around the Lansdowne construction site. "It was three years ago and it took about 18 months for them to make the decision."
Curling Canada collects all the ticket revenue for the Brier, while OSEG profits from food and beverage sales and parking fees.
Sports tourism 'very competitive'
Other sectors of the local economy stand to benefit as well.
"They are staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants, they are visiting our museums, they are shopping in our shopping centres," said Jantine Van Kregten, director of communications with Ottawa Tourism.
"Sports tourism is very competitive. Every city, every municipality across the country wants a piece of the pie," said Van Kregten.
The Brier relies on 600 volunteers, most ot them local residents.
But Kathy Jones and her husband Chris have come all the way from Slave Lake, Alta., to help with the ice making.
The couple's pilgrimages to various curling events are costly, but worth it, Jones said.
"In general we probably spend around four grand on each event ... You meet the nicest people, see the same faces and get to see all the curlers and get to know them."