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Saskatoon awarded 2012 Tim Hortons Brier

The 2012 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Monsanto, will be staged in Saskatoon, it was announced today by the Canadian Curling Association (CCA).The 83rd edition of the Canadian Men’s Curling Championship will be played at the 14,200-seat Credit Union Centre (formerly SaskPlace) from March 3-11, 2012.  It will mark the sixth time that Saskatoon has hosted the Brier since it began in 1927 in Toronto, the 10th time the province has held the event and the eighth year of title sponsorship by Tim Hortons.

Saskatoon will join Toronto, Calgary and Halifax as the only cities to host the Brier on at least six occasions.   The last Brier in Saskatoon was in 2004, when Nova Scotia’s Mark Dacey shocked defending champion Alberta, skipped by Randy Ferbey, counting three in the 10th end for a thrilling 10-9 victory.   The last Brier in Saskatchewan was held in 2006 in Regina, when won by Quebec’s Jean-Michel Ménard.

“It is my pleasure, on behalf of the Canadian Curling Association, to announce that Saskatoon will play host to the 2012 Tim Hortons Brier,” said Greg Stremlaw, Chief Executive Officer of the CCA.  “Given that curling is the provincial sport of Saskatchewan, the city of Saskatoon has certainly demonstrated its passion for curling with some of the largest attended curling events in history.  We felt that the timing was perfect to bring the Brier back to Saskatoon, and we hope that the community embraces this iconic event in record numbers.”

Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon

“The Government of Saskatchewan is pleased to contribute $500,000 toward hosting the 2012 Canadian Men’s Curling Championship, Tim Hortons Brier,” said Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Bill Hutchinson.  “Prestigious events such as this highlight the province of Saskatchewan as a first-class host world-wide and help move our province’s economy forward.”

Saskatoon hosted its first Brier in 1946, followed by 1965, 1989 (when it set an attendance record of 151,538), 2000 (when it set another attendance record of 248,793, breaking the former mark of 242,887 by Edmonton in 1999) and 2004.   The Brier attendance record is now 281,985, set in Edmonton in 2005 at the first Tim Hortons Brier.

Mayor Donald Atchison added, “Saskatoon has a great tradition of hosting Briers that showcase our hospitality, professionalism and excellence in all we do.  As the Volunteer Capital of Canada, our volunteers will be committed and ready to greet the many visitors to our city and deliver an event second to none.”

The host committee chairman will be Kerry Tarasoff, who has held various executive committee positions in past Saskatoon Briers.

“Our host committee, along with Curl Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Curling Association and the city are extremely excited about having the opportunity to once again host one of the nation’s unique sporting events and festival at Credit Union Centre, which recently was home to the World Junior Hockey Championship,” said Tarasoff.

“Tim Hortons’ support of curling in Canada goes back 15 years and we are proud to once again renew our title sponsorship with the Brier,” said Bill Moir, Chief Brand and Marketing Officer, Tim Hortons.  “Tim Hortons and curling are a great fit as both are uniquely Canadian and we look forward to being part of this premier championship.”

The Brier has been played in 31 cities across Canada, from Victoria to St. John’s.  Manitoba has won a leading 26 Briers, while Alberta is next with 25.  Saskatchewan has won seven Briers, the last by Rick Folk in Calgary in 1980.  New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Yukon/Northwest Territories have yet to win.

“As a company 100 per cent focused on agriculture, it makes sense for Monsanto to lend its name to curling – a sport that is enthusiastically embraced by our farm customers and employees across the country,” said Trish Jordan, Public and Industry Affairs Director with Monsanto Canada based in Winnipeg.   “This will be our seventh Brier as presenting sponsor and we know the City of Saskatoon will be an outstanding host.”

The Brier attendance record of 281,985 in Edmonton in 2005 eclipsed the former mark of 248,793 established in 2000 in Saskatoon.   Those numbers are followed by Calgary (246,126 in 2009 and 245,296 in 2002), Edmonton (242,887 in 1999), Saskatoon (238,129 in 2004) and Calgary (223,322 in 1997).

Tickets for the 2012 Tim Hortons Brier are expected to go on sale in February of 2011.    The Brier will be televised exclusively and extensively in Canada by TSN, from the round robin, through the Page Playoffs, semi-final, bronze medal and gold medal (final) games.

The Brier winner will then represent Canada at the 2012 World Men’s in Basel, Switzerland, March 31-April 8.   The winning team also earns a berth into the 2012 Canada Cup, the 2013 Continental Cup and becomes one of the teams eligible for either the Pre-Trials or the 2013 Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials, which will determine Canada’s representatives for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

The Brier competition involves 12 teams – representing the 10 provinces plus Northern Ontario and Yukon/Northwest Territories – playing a round robin, leading to the Page Playoff system involving the top four teams.   The first and second place teams meet in the Page 1 vs 2 game, with the winner advancing to the final while the loser goes to the semi-final.  The third and fourth place teams meet in the Page 3 vs 4 game, with the winner advancing to the semi-final.

New to the Brier playoff format, beginning in 2011, is the introduction of a bronze medal game, featuring the loser of the Page 3-4 versus the loser of the semi-final.  The 2011 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Monsanto, will be held at the John Labatt Centre in London from March 5-13, with the winner representing Canada at the Ford World Men’s in Regina from April 2-10.

Since 1980, when the first Labatt Brier was held in Calgary and a playoff format was introduced, 20 of 31 Brier winners have gone on to win the World Men’s Curling Championship.  The latest was Alberta’s Kevin Koe, who won the 2010 Tim Hortons Brier in Halifax and the Capital One World Men’s in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.