The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling is back.
Sportsnet announced that their premier curling series will be making a return to Yorkton after events in 2014 and 2015. The Meridian Canadian Open will be in Yorkton from Jan. 14-19 2020. Yorkton will be one of six communities on the Grand Slam schedule this year, which will allow the world’s top curlers to pursue a total of $2.1 million in prize money over the six events.
Neil Weinmaster with the Yorkton Curling Club is excited to see the event return to the city.
From the club’s perspective, the best part of hosting the event is seeing top teams around the world, up close and in person.
“To excite people about a big curling event and get the top teams to come to our city is the main thing. To have the opportunity to see them first hand playing here. That’s the biggest thing, and hopefully that creates more interest in the sport,” said Weinmaster.
Hosting the event has benefits for the club. The main one is generating interest, they hope that watching top-level curling at the event inspires people to take up the sport and get membership at the club. Beyond that, it has financial benefits for the club as well.
“It’s done well for us, it gives us more operating money to work with. It’s a tight budget here and a tight rope to make ends meet, so that’s helped us out in the last ones we’ve had.”
The Yorkton Curling Club will also be providing the volunteers to staff the event, and volunteer lists will be compiled soon. Weinmaster doesn’t anticipate too much difficulty getting the volunteers needed, because curling fans in Yorkton are a passionate group.
“It’s a pretty large group to cover the bar and all the stats and the scorekeepers... It’s a big area, so it’s lots of volunteers, but this area we don’t have an issue with... Everybody gets excited about that event and it’s a good event, it’s a fun event.”
Mayor Bob Maloney gives the Yorkton Curling Club the credit for making the event a success, and said it’s their efforts to host, arrange volunteers and do the work behind the scenes that makes the event work.
“Their group of volunteers are amazing. It takes a lot of work to bring an event this big to the city, and the Yorkton Curling Club does such a good job. I know Pinty’s is always glad to come back to Yorkton because they get great crowds, the curlers love playing in front of a crowd, and they really enjoy their time in the city.”
From the city’s perspective, there’s also economic impact to consider. It’s a five day event, and if people come from out of town they’re not only enjoying curling, but they’re shopping, eating and getting hotel rooms in the city, putting money into the local economy.
“The curlers are so good with mingling with fans, you often see curlers after the games having a beer with fans in the beer garden. It brings people in, they have a chance to meet the curlers... As Randy Goulden always tells me, if we can get them to stay overnight, that’s when the tourism dollars start to add up,” said Maloney.
While the previous Grand Slam events in Yorkton were in December, this one is in January. Weinmaster is happy with the new date, and believes that the December-January time frame is the perfect timing for the event in Yorkton.
Maloney added that it’s a good idea to get tickets early, since the event gets close to selling out quickly.