Nfld. & Labrador

Ticket sales, excitement through the roof for Brier in St. John's

After a heroic showing from the hometown team and more than 122,000 tickets sold at the Brier, Curling Canada is singing praise for St. John's.

Sales on par with past events in much larger cities

Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue holds the Brier Tankard after defeating Team Canada. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

After a heroic showing from the hometown team and more than 122,000 tickets sold at the Tim Hortons Brier, Curling Canada is singing praise for the City of St. John's.

From start to finish, and long before the winning bid was even announced, there was a buzz surrounding the Brier in Newfoundland and Labrador's capital city, said Al Cameron, communications director for the national body.

"We knew St. John's was going to put on a show," he said.

"The ticket sales told us it was going to be a great show. But then when we actually get here and see the enthusiasm of the city, the way they've embraced this event, yeah, it's been good."

Al Cameron, communications director for Curling Canada, said the national body is interested in coming back to St. John's, despite challenges in hosting a major event here. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

The province had not hosted a Brier since 1972, when the host club, skipped by Fred Durant, posted a 3-7 record.

For the past eight days, people from all over Canada have watched something grow in St. John's.

Ticket sales matched Ottawa

The excitement started right out of the gate, with the first Brad Gushue win last Saturday and boiled over into an epic celebration with the championship Gushue rink on Sunday night.

Ticket sales were on par with last year's event in Ottawa — a city of 883,000 people.

For Devin Heroux, who has been covering curling with CBC Sports for more than a decade, this Brier more than holds up against the rest.

Devin Heroux, a reporter for CBC Sports, has been to many Briers, but never one quite like St. John's. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"I think it's one of the best ever, and for so many reasons," he said.

"It's a crash course of perfection. They came for the curling, they came for the party, and on both fronts, it's been really wonderful."

City councillor Sandy Hickman said both Mile One Centre and the adjacent convention centre were filled with people throughout the majority of the week, with economic spinoffs for the area.

"It's been extraordinary," he said.

"To have something as prestigious as the Brier in our city, it's been beyond what we ever could have hoped for."

City councillor Sandy Hickman said he hopes the see the Brier return to the city within eight years. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Hickman said the city will be looking at bringing more major curling events to Mile One, with an eye on the Brier returning within the next six to eight years.

Cameron said it's up to the city to put in bids for other Curling Canada events, such as the world championships and Scottie's Tournament of Hearts.

"Based on what we saw this week, we're intrigued," he said with a smile.

About the Author

Ryan Cooke works for CBC out of its bureau in St. John's.