Friday, September 15, 2006

The Tankard has returned

A new curling sponsor was officially unveiled in Ontario yesterday: TSC Stores, the Incredible Country Hardware Store, which takes over title sponsorship of the Ontario men's championship.

Previously supported by Kia Motors (Kia Cup), Nokia (Nokia Cup) and Labatt (Blue Light Tankard and Labatt Tankard) the 2007 provincial shootout is scheduled for February 12-18 in Sarnia. The Tankard name now returns to the Ontario finals for the first time since 1995, as the new event title moniker is the TSC Stores Tankard.

“This is tremendous news for our Ontario Curling Association members and hundreds of thousands of curling fans across the province,” said Doug Bakes, Executive Director of the OCA. “TSC Stores is an outstanding organization, Canadian-owned, and expanding rapidly in the province. We are extremely pleased to welcome TSC Stores as title sponsor of our premier event.”

“Curling has a unique Canadian identity and community appeal,” said Greg Hicks, Chief Operating Officer of TSC Stores. “Becoming title sponsor of the Ontario Men’s Championship is a great fit for us.”

This may have been the worst-kept secret in Ontario curling, as this healthy CurlingZone chat thread indicates. Regardless, the announcement glosses over Kia's recent decision to leave the sport in Ontario – the Kia Cup remains in Alberta – and both OCA and their marketing agent are to be congratulated for a quick announcement of a new sponsor. A sponsor with a direct tie to competitive curling, in the person of TSC marketing guy Brent Palmer.

Elsewhere:

• There have been rumours and stories of VANOC's 2010 Olympic budget problems, but today's Vancouver Sun is in hysterics:

2010 Games in crisis!
Watchdogs sound alarm!
B.C. taxpayers on hook for about $1.5 billion and construction is moving too slowly!

We've heard this before. But today also marks the first time the proposed new curling venue at Hillcrest is labelled “at risk”, specifically:

Olympic organizers managed to get the IOC to agree to downsize the Games' arenas to NHL-sized rinks instead of the larger European surfaces that are the Olympic standard, as the report suggested. But a curling arena is still up for grabs – if it can't be built on the original $28-million budget it should simply be scuttled. The speed skating in oval in Richmond is also facing a scheduling crunch.

It all promises a showdown over the leadership of the Olympics, with the provincial New Democratic Party saying the reports suggest mismanagement, planning errors and cost overruns that are reminders of the indebted 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

And in another Sun story:

Calling for some “scope management,” the consultants also recommended scaling back some of the Olympic venues. This includes cancelling the Hillcrest Curling Rink project and moving curling events to another venue unless construction can come within the $28 million bid-book estimate, plus reasonable escalation.

Uh oh.

• On the positive side, Nova Scotia's Digby Curling Club – sorry, Curling Centre – is taking positive steps towards self-rescue, as this local story indicates. It all started with a call to the Canadian Curling Association, which promptly sent its Business of Curling seminar out east for a major powwow...

• More positives: the welcome return of CurlTV is imminent... whoops, actually, it relaunches today, in fact. CurlTV 2.0 is on the air, with all kinds of fabulous live webstreamed curling content ready to send directly to your computer. This season's sked of over 200 games is expected to include additional European content, a new host, an expanded Game Vault with some 160 archived matches to choose from – everything from the Brier to the Grand Slams – plus a new emphasis on news. Furthermore, there's a free sneak peak – within the members section – of Version 2.0 available to all, from September 26 to 28. Don't miss it.

• The Manitoba Curling Tour has been busy: their news release is out, hawking their schedule – which boasts increased money this season – and they've got a new website, part of the CurlingZone network. Great stuff. Coverage today from CJOB and also the Winnipeg Sun's Jim Bender, who also has a column today...

• Chiliwack, B.C. is gearing up for another season, which includes the Continental Cup. In this additional story, we discover that nearly 30 per cent of tickets were snapped up over the summer months...

• Finally, here's a new curling videogame for your mobile phone. Go have some fun. And have a great weekend...

2 comments:

Black Lab Five said...

Nice wrapup as usual. I, for one, am thrilled to see the return of "Tankard." To me, the Labatt Brier Tankard was one of the great trophies in sports. (I know Old Macdonald has more history, but that Labatt mug was a lot easier for four guys to hoist over the heads.) Maybe the new hardware in Ontario will draw from the old Labatt design.

Mike Potter said...

While finding a new sponsor in Ontario is great news, you should be asking tough questions like why did KIA leave their sponsorship in the first place, with a year left on their contract. Or, if this is such great news for curling, why is there no mention of it on the OCA homepage? http://ontcurl.com/

Sponsorship in curling is a mess right now. In the past few years, Labatt, Nokia, KIA and many other large companies have all reduced or withdrawn their sponsorship of the game. We need to fix this ASAP, otherwise this once growing sport will return to the shadows.

Get my take on the TSC Stores sponsorship on my blog at http://www.inthehack.com/curling_blogs/mikeypotter/2006-08-31/curlings_problems_starting_to_show

Mike
http://www.inthehack.com