Final impact will take time to confirm, but organizers pleased with weeklong event
SUMMERSIDE – The overall impact of the Players’ Championship of the Grand Slam of Curling will have to wait for final assessment, but the outlook is promising.
© Journal Pioneer photo
The Grand Slam of Curling event in Summerside received a positive assessment from all aspects of organization and play, highlighted with Kevin Martin capping his competitive career with the men's championship.
J.P. Desrosiers, director of Community Services with the City of Summerside, deemed it a great event for the community.
“From logistics, to crowds, to ice quality and national coverage: it’s been a fantastic week. It’s been a year and a half of planning for our host committee, so it’s nice to see it all come together,” he said.
The experience gained the last time the Grand Slam was held here, two years ago, paid dividends this year. Everything was covered, according to Desrosiers, thanks to the 185 volunteers and 12 principal organizers as well as the strong curling community that supported it.
Representatives from Touism Summerside have been scanning during the week, but Desrosiers’ department is planning to do a soft economic impact assessment, internally, to get a sense of how things went.
He has received input from the business community, noting that restauranteurs and hoteliers report that traffic is up, but it will take a month to six weeks to fully assess due to other upcoming events that need to be completed first.
“Our job is to continue to keep this place busy, to continue to drive revenues and traffic into the building, give people in Summerside, P.E.I., and the Maritimes someplace to go and see great, first-class entertainment,”he explained.
“The number one goal is to bring people into our community,” to boost the economic flow, he stated.
“You bring in 24 teams, a crew of 65 from Sportsnet, for five days, you bring in hundreds of fans from off-Island, it’s pretty hard to argue that this event didn’t bring in some significant impact,” he assessed.
The Grand Slam helped Credit Union Place financially by creating significant revenue contrasted by lean expenses, which reduces risk.
This is a soft time of year and it is a great way to be busy, Desrosiers said.
From logistics, to crowds, to ice quality and national coverage: it’s been a fantastic week. J.P. Desrosiers, director of communications with the City of Summerside
Visibility for the city and for the Credit Union Place facility has been evident from the contacts Desrosiers has received from across the country.
“To put a value on what it would be to buy TV advertising for this type of event would be hard, but I would say it is significant. It’s been fantastic all around,” Desrosiers concluded.
He noted that attendance increased over numbers from the last edition, even if there seemed to be a lot of empty seats. For both Desrosiers and Sportsnet event manager Kristi Petrushchak, it is a matter of how many are actually attending rather than the optics.
Both are considering how to get more audience in the seats.
An added feature to attract that audience has been an in-venue broadcast of commentary to help boost understanding among soft fans. While that has been well-received, especially from novice fans like Marie Barlow of Tyne Valley who attended all week to watch a cousin curl, it also introduces more complexity to make it effective.
Petrushchak foresees such things as an expansion of that service to individualize it to the games in play, and arranging some seating control to maximize broadcast benefits as ways to improve the attraction.
“We need a stronger ‘go to’ market strategy, to say ‘We’re coming to town. This is something huge,’” she described.
Desrosiers echoed that sentiment.
“We’re looking at potentially forming a long-term relationship with the Grand Slam. This is a fantastic event for the city; we can obviously do it having done it twice already now. Our crowds are up this time over last, so hopefully it’s an indication of where they’ll go the next time. We’ll go from there.”