One of the more remarkable things in competitive curling, to me, at least, is that the size of purses has been relatively stagnant even from those days so many moons ago when I used to curl for dollars.
With the exception of the Grand Slams, most of the “big” events on the World Curling Tour (oops, sorry, the Asham World Curling Tour) offer up an average purse somewhere between $30,000 to $50,000.
There are some exceptions such as the Cactus Pheasant at 70K, but if purses have grown, it hasn’t been at a rate consistent with the profile of the sport.
One of the main reasons, of course, is the difficulty in attracting sponsors. Curling sponsors are rare beasts, in spite of the fact that those that take a solid stance often report good results in getting support from curlers. Curlers are definitely loyal beasts.
Most curling sponsors get involved because the guy/gal controlling the dollars is a curling fan, not always because it makes good business sense. That’s not always the case, but it does seem to happen more often than not.
Why is that? Because in many cases, local bonspiels are run by volunteers who aren’t pros at selling sponsorships. It’s easier to hit up Bill at the Garage down the street than Fred at the Car Dealership because Bill is a curler. In many cases, Fred doesn’t even get a proposal.
It’s tough for local spiels to justify to a company such as Fred’s why it should put up $20,000. Is there a return on the investment? There can be, but trying to convince people of that is a difficult task if you're a curler talking to a non-curler.