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BRIER CHAMPIONSHIPS – ALTERNATIVE FORMAT

February 3rd, 2015
Curling, Uncategorized

As an avid fan of the Brier, it is sad to see the controversy surrounding the changes made by Canadian Curling AXsociation.  If you follow Eastern Canada journalism in 2015, you will find a concern that one of Adam Casey (PEI) or (former Brier Champion from NS) Mark Dacey will not be in the Brier this year because of relegation (assuming they make it through the province). Accordingly, here is a solution for which no charge will be billed to CCA:

BRIER TEAMS

BRIER ROUND ROBIN FORMAT

This simple change to format would give all teams a minimum of 7 games to prove their worth during the round robin.  As for the championship round, six teams would emerge with the top teams getting a bye to the semi-final. (Click on the image to enlarge and remove fuzziness)

  BRIER CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND

Not including tiebreakers, the winning team will play at least 9 games. No one will deny the depth of curling in Alberta to warrant two teams from that province. Yes, there is a potential national audience killer – if either only Ontario or Alberta  teams end up in the final. But it happens in baseball and football, so what?

Add to this, there is money in a Scotties or a Brier, provincial or national. See http://yorkurbanist.com/2015/01/29/2015-ontario-scotties-as-economic-generator/

2015 will be a telling year. It will tell CCA:

  • No province or territory wants relegation: we are better than that;
  • Audiences will be lost. Translation: fewer curlers in potential growth jurisdictions;
  • Grand Slams could take over as events for national attention.  The Brier is already losing its shine and its attendance. Grand Slam events are televised and have gained TV and live streaming audiences;
  • Calgary fans/attendees will be their usual full-house if there is an Albertan team in the final.  If not, then revenues will not meet plan, likening to the financial fiasco in Kamloops in 2014.
  • IMG_00000529

    Kamloops Brier 2014 – Note crowd in the stands

2015 Ontario Scotties As Economic Generator

January 29th, 2015
Curling

What do you think was the economic stimulus of the 2015 Ontario Scotties?  Description: Small venue, 10 teams of four women and a coach, capacity of 250 persons viewing… Dismiss not this valuable commodity.  Consider this:

The Total Economic Impact is comprised of Direct and Indirect expenditures. There are also Induced values.

IMG_00003040Direct Impacts result from expenditures by the organizing committee  and Ontario Curling Association. The expenditures include:

  • employment of staff
  • goods and services to run the event
  • provisions to volunteers and organizers

Indirect Impacts result from the expenditures by individual participants in the event such as volunteers (est. 75), players/coaches (50+), officials (15), families/friends of participants (100+), other visitors (150+) primarily spending on:

  • Hotels
  • Meals
  • Beverages
  • Transportation: fuel; maintenance; rental
  • other externalities

Induced Impacts results from the employees and local residents purchasing good and services during the event, external to normal purchasing. This is a difficult number to evaluate, but assumptions can be made that this event stimulates spending on things other than what happened at the Penetanguishene Curling Club.  The resulting profits from the event will further be expended to improve the Curling Club.  It is the Induced Impacts that warrant the Town’s encouragement to sports groups to be active. And what of the local, provincial and national media attention!!?? There were impacts of which no exact monetary value can be assigned.

To evaluate, consider the time over which planning and actual tournament operations occur.  The planning is one year for a 7-day event.

Travel Impact Industry General Weight
Accommodations 85%
Food Services 20%
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 50%
Retail 5%
Ground Transportation 13%

Without getting into the evaluative details, 2015 Ontario Scotties generated over  $250,000 into the local economy.  This is not a minor economic generator for a small population centre.  The organizers are to be commended for their diligence and community spirit.  Take that to your councillors and area businesses.

If you desire further detail regarding the evaluation, you can contact Mark Inglis at yorkurbanist@gmail.com

 

Ontario Curling playdowns – the other events…

January 7th, 2015
Curling

Richard Hart has allayed all concerns that Team Howard has any bitter grapes by his post on http://www.curlingzone.com/showthread.php?s=0328a69a40dd7ed2625573281ca36dd8&forumid=&tp=0&sp=&postid=138098#post138098 .  He points to change in the management of Ontario Curling Association.  But Richard is a better player than most.  He has sons in bantams and juniors.  They also need change in playdown format.  Unequal zones lead to unequal results and sometimes lesser teams making provincials.  Illness or bereavement could prevent teams who have worked hard from becoming provincial champions.  Life lesson learned… but is it fair. We only need to look at the Olympic qualification process to find an answer.

A New Formula

OCT standings 2014Through four years of interstitial performances, the country can find the best qualified teams.  In Ontario, the period between September and December is a long enough period to establish the best we have in any of the events, seniors, juniors, masters, ladies and mixed. The period currently is two short weekends, many of which (zones) either have no entries or direct award. Ontario Curling Tour http://www.ontariocurlingtour.com/ and Ontario Junior Curling Tour http://ojct.ca/ each have systems in place to award points.  In a new system, the top two teams in those tours get direct entry.  OJCT events are hard to get into and therefore has not enough events, but watch it grow! OCT events usually fill, but those that do not, will find no difficulty in gaining teams.  Seniors also have competitions by which points may be gained – see TCA’s initiative https://www.torontocurling.com/circuit/ . TCA circuit But in my dream playdown structure, not only will the top two teams gain from points, but the teams with fewer points will have a leg up in the qualification for Regions.

Regional Playdowns

Having spent September through December playing in point-accumulating spiels, teams will enter the OCA competition with a reasonable fee for a two step process. The fees will be put toward hiring a designated and certified icemaker; consistent set of rocks; and a venue (arena or club facility) that evokes the credibility of the event it hosts. The points gained in spiels will seed the teams in the triple knock-out draw for 16-teams per 4 regions.  A team must consist of members of OCA, but no club specific designation need be made, except to receive a banner at the end of the Regions.  Once the 16-team field is filled in one region, then openings in other regions are available to latecomers or lower points earners. The Benefits:

  • Consistency: of ice; of play; of venue
  • Marketing Potential to build this sport that is starting to rival hockey on the airwaves;
  • Revenue producing for a club (such as Ingersoll and Penetanguishene for 2015 provincials) who can prepare, knowing how many teams are arriving;
  • Investment of Time by players, who know that the risk of illness will not put them out of competition – a healthy leap of qualified athletes in the sport of curling.
  • Pride in five distinct events (4 regions, 1 provincial per age/gender group)

Events Rationalized

Mixed Doubles: Is trending hard but still in the trial stages. The challenge is on the list, but it could follow the formula above.  ADD

MD-Fri-Howard-Bobbie-Makichuk-resized[1] Colts has had its day.  It has become the event that was intended for middle range competitors, but resulted in losers from the Tankard or Provincial Seniors who could somehow wipe away tears. ELIMINATE

Challenge Rounds: No longer needed! Hooray!   ELIMINATE

Gore Mutual Schoolboys/girls:  What is this if not the Ontario Federation of Secondary Schools Association playdowns.  ELIMINATE.

Imagine the costs saved by clubs that give up their ice time for sometimes non-existent Zones.  One less tier of events for OCA will allow that cost to be put into the more important Regions. Costs and family time saved by players who no longer enter a zone event that could have 16 teams or none. And perhaps, the officials could get a small stipend and costs.

In addition to provincial change, check out my suggested national changes http://yorkurbanist.com/2015/02/03/brier-championships-alternative-format/

Unique Curling Programs

January 1st, 2015
Curling, Recreation

Has your club got a program that attracted an unexpectedly large number of participants, spectators or cash?

We would like to know about it. You may even get published!

Email: yorkurbanist@gmail.com ; or  Tweet to @yorkurbanist ; or FaceBook Mark Inglis

You have less than a month to share.

 

images[8]  Here are some page references:

http://yorkurbanist.com/recreation/curling/curling-facilities/curling-facilities-and-demographics-trends-2015/

http://yorkurbanist.com/recreation/curling/curling-business-planning/

Death and Life of a Curling Club

October 27th, 2014
Curling

The 1960’s were golden years for curling. Space travel and Canada’s Centennial were generators of optimism. The Government of Canada encouraged building with grants that would transform towns in celebration of 100 years of confederation. And the sport of curling celebrated with multiple new facilities. At $100 a year, curling was an affordable sport. And for dinner, McDonald’s offered a meal that came with change from your dollar. The club was a place where guys could hang out, away from the rigours of family. Sons would have the opportunity to join in their teens. Timeline: 50 years later. The celebrations, that once haled new arenas, are now about founding members. But what of the facilities? The décor remains distinctly 1960’s – you know – dark wood panelling lounge; fluorescent and sometimes incandescent lights; uninsulated concrete block walls, maybe a quanset hut; and, of course, the centrepiece bar. And the programs? Well, women are allowed in the building, in fact, they have their own leagues. Heck, even some club presidents are women. That baby boom demographic, now seniors, is filling daytime league hours. Youth curling starts kids at age 6, sometimes younger. But the ‘Tween years, 21 to 45, ..where’d they go? And Canada’s culture? Drinking and driving is discouraged, and smoking is disallowed in buildings. Twenty-somethings are unaware of life without internet and other technologies. The Olympics has transformed curling into a sport from a recreation. Voluntarism is prescribed into high school curricula, but voluntarism continues to wane. On Death and Dying Some facilities in urban areas have disappeared. And why, you ask? The reason: lack of Technological Adaptation, slow to follow Recreation Trends and poor Financial Planning by clubs. The lands on which curling arenas were built now have higher and better uses in the middle of Canada’s metropolises. Curling Facilities can thrive and be a part of those higher and better uses. Some suburban and rural facilities only survive by limiting financial costs using voluntarism. Other facilities simply carry on, hoping that the CCA’s annual Capital Assistance Program will get them another 6 month season of reprieve. Gaining Life In this issue, we will talk Technical Adaptation and how it can instill life into a facility. Technical Adaptation:

  • Construction practices: Few new clubs have been built in Canada, but lasers and other construction technologies, mechanical/electrical, have offered previously unattainable improvements to the accuracy of ice making. Building codes now insist on well insulated buildings and construction excellence. Green buildings built or renovated to code will ensure reduced costs of operations and more comfortable facilities.
  • Water technology has improved. Firms like Jet-Ice, introduced water purification and demineralization, to make ice conditions better. Fewer complaints from wannabe world champions translate into less manipulation of ice conditions by ice makers.
  • 2014-10-07 16.33.52Scoreboards remain in the dark ages. Why has curling not adopted digital technology? With the push of a button or remote, change the score, so that folks new to the sport can understand. Would the seniors call it heresy?
  • TV monitors: Many facilities have installed cameras and TV monitors to watch the far end ice. Most monitors are for the spectators, but they can be useful on-ice as well! Replays? I have yet to see this possibility included on an ice TV monitor. That technology was available in the 1960’s! Mounted outside the glass, in the ice arena, a monitor can be accessed by spectators in the lounge and players. Mounted inside, only spectators get the benefit. Better yet, two monitors. Either way is an improvement to encourage patrons to stay in the lounge, spending and contributing to the corporate bottom line. And can you imagine a computer screen by the window to check out scores here at our club and around the globe?
  • Instruction tools: Where are the digital cameras and strategy rooms? Curling has roving camps that bring in ‘delivery-changing’ devices that are easily within financial reach of any facility and address the lexicon of the new curler. A camera is all you need to analyze slides and sweeping techniques. A computer, inexpensive programs and a small meeting room is all that is needed to discuss strategy and review the camera work. The investment of $1-5,000 can get you a classroom and a class facility. That investment could be recuperated in one year of teaching, with an organized business model.

Next month: Financial Planning for Curling Facilities This article appears in The Curling News, November 2014, Volume 58, Issue 1 with a different photo.

CURLING: A RECREATION TO A BUSINESS

April 20th, 2014
Curling, Recreation

In the coming weeks, this blog will create a hypothetical and entrepreneurial approach to rebuilding the sport of curling in the fictional community of Aasvogel, Ontario.  The story is based on a true life and death of a curling club. Curling is not a dying sport as reported elsewhere. The seeds of curling are able to be planted in any community.

Starting as a Dutch farm community, the village became affected by the changing Greater Toronto Area.  The farm-predominant community looked for activities for the winter. Scots farm immigrants had started a four-sheet curling club in 1951.The Scots imported curling and together one hundred formed a group who built a community centre mostly with volunteer labour and donated materials. Through the 1950’s and 1960’s, the membership grew to 250 but little else changed. Volunteers continued to run the club, making ice, catering events and running leagues for men.  Children of the founding members, baby boomers, provided the regeneration needed to sustain the club into the golden years of curling, the 1970’s. But some things changed.  The third generation was not large enough to provide natural growth for the club. Women wanted to join.  Opportunities to leave the community drew high schoolers to universities away from home. 

But alas, the community demographics changed while the curling membership stood still. Attrition at the normal rate of 15% was not countered by new members from a changing community.  Word-of-mouth had always worked in the past (1951 to 1980). But the club closed in 1988, unable to meet cost obligations. In 2014, the community of Aasvogel is a typical suburban community, population 20,000, whose cultural makeup continues to change.

So what happened?

During the later life of the club, new generations of immigrants and urban dwellers were buying into the community, because there was more land for less cost.  The town population was growing but the club membership was shrinking.

And the sport, in 1988, was isolated to a knowledgeable group of recreationists.

The volunteer board struggled with the shrinkage, not risking their friendships in the farm community by changing directions and fees. Why change what worked in the past?

Finally, the cost of replacing the 30 year-old compressor and plant parts would require $300,000. With fewer than 200 members, the board could not find the money through either donations nor fee increases and the club was forced to close.

What really went wrong?

Fear of Change: This was a proud club formed around a distinct demographic.  The members became comfortable, so much so that there was little long-term planning. The demographic change was coincident with population growth.  The club board failed to engage the new community members. 

Competition: The new community members were unfamiliar with the sport, the Town of Aasvogel built and subsidized an arena in which hockey dominated.  The arena was multi-functional, providing a facility available to the new community members.

Planning, Operations and Budget: The aging curling building had construction/maintenance problems, making it a hazardous facility, and not up to current regulations.  Without capital having been accumulated to cover depreciation of the asset, there was no fund to replace the asset.

Weakening Voluntarism:  Suburbanization caused families to spend more time commuting to workplaces.  Women joined the workforce in ever increasing numbers.  Adult volunteers became more scarce daytime and evenings.  The operations of the formerly volunteer run club struggled to continue without changing their program.

Demographic Change: The former curling demographic no longer could populate the club naturally. The new immigrant population was not educated about the sport.  The aging population does not bode well for the future of the curling club.

Does any of this hit home?  In the coming articles, we suggest that a new community curling facility can be built. We will break the steps down in each article.

Go to http://yorkurbanist.com/recreation/curling/curling-a-recreation-to-a-business/re-forming-the-core-group/ to see the next steps.

STEPS:

  1. REFORMING THE CORE GROUP
  2. THE BUSINESS PLAN
  3. MARKETING
  4. BUILDING PLANS
  5. CURLING STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS
  6. THE OPERATION
  7. DELIVERING SERVICES
  8. SPECIAL EVENTS
  9. AFTER ONE YEAR
  10. AFTER FIVE YEARS
  11. AFTER THIRTY YEARS

Curling – Year of Youth 2013

April 29th, 2013
Curling, Sports

logo

Youth Reigns
- Rachel Homan’s team (ages 23-27) wins Scotties
- Brad Jacob’s Team (ages 27-33) wins Brier
- Niklas Edin Swedish Team (ages 24-25) wins Worlds
- Eve Muirhead (21) wins Worlds

Curling legitimized its place as a sport of athletes through the results of this transition year. The timing could not be better as the Olympics are less than a year away and contemplating growth of the number of golds to the sport. Although Martin, Stoughton and Howard continue to hold court at the 8-end events, they weakened during the weeklong Brier. The fittest survived as did the Scotties champions.

Interestingly, it was the seniors of Canada who pulled off the double gold. You’ll say we told you so about Canada’s dominance with those results, but that is just evidence that the players of the past had less requirement to be the fittest…but perhaps they were the craftiest.

Crafty is what Howard, Martin and Stoughton have, but Martin’s loss of Johnny Morris will further weaken his ability to win unless he comes up with a youthful, crafty and fit replacement. And Colleen Jones this year showed skills of the past, but next year will watch the youth of Nova Scotia vie for the Scotties, I suspect.

What I liked to see this year was the emergence of an active and youth oriented sport stateside. The USA has seen more dedicated ice added to the landscape and more in the offing. One off the podium at the US championships, 31 year old Tyler George enlisted the 25 year old Chris Plys to vice. And then there is the just out of juniors Dropkin team in the hunt for nationals and colleges. The Ontario Junior Curling Tour has been around since Wes Johnson invented it in 2004. Nine years and growth of competition was the breeding ground for Homan and Jacobs. Look at the website now. You will read names of future national champions.

Curling is healthy, growing in Ontario and Quebec and USA, and Mixed Doubles has become infectious in Europe as success (and Canada’s lack of success) breeds an excitement that will, in a generation, create a sport that becomes less dominated by the origin-claimant nations. Watch for another spurt of new curling fans and participants with the results coming in from Sochi.
Curling Clubs: prepare yourselves to grow your membership via the Olympic (and youthful) movement!