Organizers gearing up for Canadian junior curling championships

Although the first rocks aren’t set to roll for another four months, preparations already are well underway for the 2012 M&M Meat Shops Canadian junior curling championships in Napanee. At a news conference at the recently refurbished Napanee & District Curling Club on Monday, host committee chairperson Stephen Paul announced that tickets are now on sale for the Feb. 4-12 event. He also unveiled some of the sponsors. “We certainly appreciate all of the support, not only for this event, but for all the sport tourism events we’ve had for the last four, four and a half years. We have always had partners come to the table to assist us, which is great because it could not happen without their support,” said Paul. The event features the 13 top junior men’s and 13 top junior women’s teams, representing every province and territory in Canada. Games will be played at the Strathcona Paper Centre (SPC) and the curling club. Paul explained that three sheets will be active with games at the curling club facility, with another five sheets in use at the SPC. There will be three draws per day throughout the week, and for preliminary games, all eight sheets will be in use. Tickets for the entire week, including the championship games on Feb. 11 and 12, cost $100. For a weekend pass, which includes all games on the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the end of the event, the cost is $50. Tickets are on sale at the SPC. “So there are lots of games to be seen, lots of competitors who will be in the community, and lots of friends and family that will be following the teams, making for a big economic impact on Napanee and the surrounding region,” said Paul. “The really exciting thing about this event is that the national championship games for both the men and women will be televised live on TSN. The women’s game will be held on the final Saturday evening, and the men’s final on the Sunday evening, live across Canada. And these events have really good ratings, so that’s another bonus for this event, and this community, in terms of raising the profile of Napanee, and what we do here from a sports tourism perspective.” Paul also stressed that there will be plenty of off-ice activity. There will be special nights for the families of the curlers at the beginning of the week, while meals and entertainment will be featured at both the curling club and SPC. An opening banquet will take place the Friday before competition at the SPC, while a closing banquet, where more than 300 people are expected, will take place in the gym at Napanee District Secondary School on the final Friday of the event. “By the end of the week, we’ll all have seen great curling, we’re going to have eaten well, and I think those who visit us are going to have a good, welcoming feeling for our community,” Paul said. Paul believes that hosting events such as this one, the 2011 Canadian junior men’s fastball championship, the 2010 Ontario men’s curling championship, and the 2008 national women’s U-18 hockey championship helps the community in many ways. “I think it’s a tribute to the support of volunteers and the corporate community, and everyone working together to create a team that allows us to go and bid on these events, and be successful with them,” Paul said. “What I get excited about is the marketing of our community. Any event that has TSN broadcasting is a huge plus. You can’t pay for that kind of advertising. “And when you have people working together, you have increased community pride.” Hosting events leaves a more tangible legacy in that the revenue generated can help upgrade sports and recreation facilities for the entire community. The town got a Trillium Grant after being awarded the 2012 curling event, helping pay for renovations at the curling club. With the fastball nationals, the town was able to improve the main diamonds and the fairgrounds, including the construction of sturdy new dugouts. By Jim Barber (for the Kingston Whig Standard) – October 24, 2011