Kelowna ripe to host Brier

Kelowna Curling Club manager Jock Tyre is putting together a bid for the city to host an upcoming Canadian men's curling championship

Local curling club manager Jock Tyre wants to see the Brier in Kelowna in 2019 or 2020.

It’s been almost five decades since Kelowna has hosted the Canadian men’s curling championship.

If Jock Tyre has his way, one of the country’s most storied and popular sporting events will once again make a stop in the Okanagan.

The manager of the Kelowna Curling Club is in the early stages of compiling a bid to host the Tim Hortons Brier in either 2019 or 2020.

Tyre has held preliminary discussions regarding the bid with Curling Canada, Tourism Kelowna and RG Properties, the owners of Prospera Place.

“We’re way past due,” Tyre said of Kelowna hosting the Brier. “A city of our size, with our facility, our volunteer base and the popularity of curling here, I don’t think there’s any doubt we’re ready to host.”

The last time Kelowna hosted the Brier was 1968 at Memorial Arena, won by Alberta’s Ron Northcott.

But Kelowna is one of the few cities of its size in Canada yet to host the national championship in the modern era of large arena settings.

Kamloops, with a greater area population just over half of the Central Okanagan, has staged the Brier twice, in 1996 and 2014.

Kelowna did get a taste of big-time curling in 2012 when the Canadian Open, featuring the likes of Brad Jacobs, Kevin Koe, John Morris and Brad Gushue, was played at Prospera Place.

In recent years, depending on the size of the facility, Briers have generated between $5 million and $15 million for local economies.

With three draws per day to be televised nationally, and curling fans from across Canada to descend on Kelowna for 10 days in early March, Tyre said the impact for the city, both economically and culturally, would be invaluable.

“It’s a huge event and would be huge for Kelowna,” Tyre said. “All the hours of television time, the people that are going to come to our city, the hotel rooms, the food they’re going to eat and the beer they’re going to drink…it’s like nothing we’ll have seen here.”

In Kelowna, curling has grown steadily in the 2000s and has never been more popular than it is today, with close to 1,100 members at the local club.

One of those members, Tyrel Griffith, has been to four Briers as a player with the Jim Cotter rink and has seen firsthand the impact the event has on host communities.

“It’s absolutely phenomenal, what that would do for the city and sport of curling in B.C. would be incredible,” said Griffith. “Having events here like this inspires kids.

“It would be great for the economy, too, this is one of the best places in Canada to come and visit, and we’d really get to show it off to the rest of the country.”

Hosting the event would require a $1 million deposit, but with community and corporate support Tyre doesn’t anticipate raising the money to be a major barrier.

Curling Canada recently awarded the 2018 Brier to Regina.

The 2017 Canadian men’s championship will be played in St. John’s, NFLD.