The Brier is coming to Toronto. Word late last night came to me that the CCA has announced Toronto as the site of the 2010 Tim Hortons Brier. What’s more, thanks to an arrangement with uber-sports group Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the Canadian men’s curling championship will be coming to Toronto on a regular basis.
The deal, to be announced later this week, will see the Brier held in Toronto on even years through 2020. The championship will be held at the Air Canada Centre in 2010 with it moving to the Ricoh Coliseum after that. MLSE has the option to move back to the ACC if it sees fit.
MLSE, which owns the Leafs, Raptors and soccer club Toronto FC, has been hoping to add more sports franchises to its stable and believes it can make the Brier run in Canada’s largest city. It has reportedly guaranteed the CCA $2 million for each year of hosting. The arrangement also sees MLSE put up a $5 million payment on signing the deal. The CCA board is apparently ecstatic with that as it will allow it to get out of debt.
One source said MLSE originally wanted a five-year consecutive deal, but the CCA declined saying it still needed to take the event to other locales in Canada.
With the deal, the CCA gets security and MLSE gets some continuity to build on. Its marketing power in the Toronto area makes it possible to sell the event to corporate Canada.
“We see this as a huge opportunity,” said Lawrence Christbaum of MLSE. “Curling is a growth sport with the Olympics and we believe we can make it work in Toronto.”
Whether the Toronto community will support this is another matter, but with MLSE behind it, it’s a good start.