Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay to push ahead with Scotties Tournament of Hearts bid

Representatives from Thunder Bay's curling community announced Monday they're going ahead with a bid to host the Canadian national women's curling championships in 2021.

City hopes to host 2021 edition of women's national curling championships

Sara Potts, lead for the Krista McCarville rink, said she and her team would love to play for a national championship in their hometown. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

Representatives from Thunder Bay's curling community announced Monday they're going ahead with a bid to host the Canadian national women's curling championships in 2021.

The bid to host the Scotties Tournament of Hearts is due by June 30, the city said, and the next step is gauging interest in hosting the bonspiel among city residents.

"We have a really great curling community," said Rick Lang, co-chair of the bid committee. "We haven't had a national championship of this calibre here since the Scotties was here last time in 1996, and the Brier [the national men's championships] once before that."

The bid is being spearheaded by the Thunder Bay area's three curling clubs — Port Arthur, Fort William and Kakabeka Falls.

'A huge opportunity'

"It's a huge opportunity for Thunder Bay, but we would just like Thunder Bay to put their hand up and show that they're interested, and prove to Curling Canada that this will be a great place to come."

The bid committee has set up a website where people can show their interest in bringing the Scotties to Thunder Bay. The site will be active until June 27, the city said.

2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts bid committee co-chair Diane Imrie said bringing the tournament to Thunder Bay would help grow the sport of curling in the city. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

Sarah Potts, who is the lead for the Krista McCarville rink and has competed in the Scotties in the past, said it would mean a lot to play for a national championship in her hometown.

"I start smiling when I think about it," she said. "It definitely gives me chills, thinking about being there."

"There would be a lot of pressure, because, of course, we have to win our way there, but, yeah, we would want it pretty bad. It would be pretty special."

Growing the sport

Bid officials estimated the Scotties — which would take place Feb. 20-28, 2021 — would generate more than $3.5 million in direct spending in Thunder Bay.

Diane Imrie, co-chair of the bid committee, said curlers and fans from across Canada would come to the city for the Scotties, and the tournament would help grow the sport in the city.

"It's not unknown that ... participation has changed," she said. "When you have access to seeing things live, it does encourage a lot of people to be involved."

Lang said the Fort William Gardens, while an old facility, is still suited for hosting the Scotties.

Lounge next door

"Our size right now is probably exactly right," he said. "Thirty-two hundred seats is the size that they're looking at."

"One of the advantages is the [Fort William] curling club right next door," Lang continued, adding the area would be used as a lounge.

"That's a big party place," he said. "That's part of curling."

The ice surface at the Fort William Curling Club, which is attached to the gardens, would be turned into a "mini-convention" centre, and allow socializing for fans and curlers.

"It's very attractive for Curling Canada when they know that the lounge can be attached to the same building," Lang said.

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