TSN request for free curling facility use unanimously defeated by Banff council

TSN appeared before Banff's town council this week to request the fee to use the curling sheets at Fenlands recreation centre be waived for the next three years for their annual Skins game.

Annual Pinty's All-Star Curling Skins Game has been held in mountain town since 2014

Banff's town council voted unanimously to turn down The Sports Network's request to waive the facility fees at the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre for their annual Pinty's All-Star Curling Skins Game for the next three years. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Sports Network is facing a blank end when it comes to securing a new deal for their annual curling event in Banff.

TSN's annual Pinty's All-Star Curling Skins Game has been held in the mountain town since 2014 — with the exception of 2018, when the event was put in hiatus because of the Olympics.

This week, the Bell Media-owned sports network appeared before Banff's town council to request the mountain town waive the fee to use the curling sheets at Fenlands recreation centre for the next three years.

TSN's representatives said in their pitch that running the annual curling broadcast was a money-losing endeavour and in the current climate of Bell Media, it is difficult to get approval for an event where revenues do not meet costs.

The fee to use the facility is pegged at $32,574 for the week-long event every year, making the subsidy in-kind worth more than $97,000.

Council voted unanimously to refuse the request.

Taxpayer should not cover cost: mayor

"Council voted to say no to that because if the user isn't paying then of course the taxpayer is paying," said Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen. "I think council felt that in this instance, the Banff taxpayer should not be covering the cost of this event."

In past years, TSN didn't pay Banff to use the recreation centre, but did split spectator ticket proceeds evenly with the town. The town would then donate a portion of their revenues to the curling club, which organizes and co-ordinates a crew of about 150 volunteers to work the event.

TSN also reimbursed Banff for costs incurred as a result of the event.

But TSN did not present ticket sale sharing revenue as part of its offer to the town for the 2019-2021 events.

Sorensen said she hasn't been in contact with Bell Media to determine whether or not they still intend to proceed with event in Banff.

"I do know that they do love coming to Banff," she said. "And I think Banff in itself is a great brand for special events like this and I'm sure TSN and others who have come understand that having the Banff name on your event is also valuable."

Despite the town refusing to waive fees, TSN did get a boost from Banff Lake Louise Tourism, which upped its annual sponsorship offer from $5,000 to $15,000.

Bell Media did not respond to requests from CBC News for comment.

With files from Anis Heydari