Brier organizers hope for big economic impact on London, Ont.

With the Tim Hortons Brier one day away, organizers and tourism officials say they are ready to welcome thousands to the downtown core for the tournament.

The annual national men’s curling championship, a 10-day event, kicks off Friday at Budweiser Gardens.

Zanth Jarvis, the director of sports tourism with Tourism London, says organizers hope to sell over 100,000 tickets for the event, with thousands of those tickets sold to people outside London.

“It’s part of the culture,” Jarvis said. “A lot of people travel to every Brier wherever it is, whether in London or elsewhere.”

With curling fans coming from across the country, Jarvis says tourism officials are predicting an economic boost between $10 million and $15 million for the city. Jarvis says the prediction is based on recent Briers in Lethbridge last year and Kingston in 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“We’re definitely going to see a tremendous impact from people travelling from all over,” said Jarvis, adding some volunteers have come all the way from Nova Scotia.


“It’ll be tremendous to help those restaurants, bars, hotels, shops that have continued to be impacted by COVID and hopefully help them get back on their feet.”

Jarvis added that hosting an event the size of the Brier can help the city get future events, especially when organizers can point out positives like getting the 400 volunteers needed relatively quickly.

“Those types of things just help us tell the story and prove London is ready and able to host big events and have the community backing behind it,” Jarvis said.

Peter Inch, vice-chair of the host committee, says volunteers and ice makers have been working at the Bud since Saturday to prepare the ice for the competition. As of Wednesday, the ice was being scrapped, with the layer of carpet between each sheet the only main thing left to do.

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“We’re ahead of the game,” said Inch, who was inducted into the Curling Canada Hall of Fame in 2018.

While the Brier officially gets underway Friday evening with the first draw of games at 7 p.m., some local curlers will get the opportunity to throw the first rocks.

Eight teams from four local curling clubs — London Curling Club, Highland Community Curling Club, St. Thomas Curling Club and Ilderton Curling Club — will play a friendly game Thursday evening.

“That will start to break the ice in so that when the players start to practise on it … it’s been used a little bit,” Inch said.

Part of the downtown fun will include The Patch at RBC Place. A staple of Briers since 1982, The Patch offers people the chance to get autographs of players during specified times each day, participate in daily games and check out live entertainment at night.

“Another part of those things with the culture, that everyone looks forward to, is to get down to The Patch,” Jarvis said.

Along with the daily happenings at The Patch, there are also a handful of one-off events. Sunday will feature an artisan market from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cool shots curling tournament is held Tuesday, with the college/university pub night on Wednesday.

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Thursday is country western night and the second Saturday of the Brier is Canadiana day, where people are encouraged to wear red and white.

The Patch is open to the general public, with minors permitted until 8 p.m.

“After months of planning and hard work in the lead-up and we’re just excited to get going,” Jarvis said.

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