THUNDER BAY – The Scotties Tournament of Hearts will be held in Thunder Bay a year later than originally planned.
Curling Canada, which stages the women’s national curling championship, on Tuesday announced the 2021 edition will be played inside a Calgary bubble to keep athletes and others associated from the event safe from COVID-19.
The Scotties was originally scheduled to be contested at the Fort William Gardens, returning to Thunder Bay for the first time in 25 years. Instead Thunder Bay will wait a 26th year and host the Scotties in 2022, a late January start to accommodate the Olympic Games.
“We’re very pleased that they’ll be coming back to Thunder Bay in 2022 with the Scotties. So really, it’s only 14 months from now, from Jan. 28 to Feb. 6, a little bit earlier date, at the Fort William Gardens,” said organizer Rick Lang.
Though disappointed at the one-year delay, Lang said it was the best decision for everyone involved. Organizers locally didn’t want to host an event without fans in the stands, given the 1,600 ticket packages that had already been sold.
“We really said right from the beginning we want a full event here. We don’t want a partial event with partial crowds and they understood that because we had great ticket sales, initially,” Lang said.
“They said if we come back, all of the partners have to be there, so we’re really happy the Community Economic Development Commission, city council, the three curling clubs and Fort William Gardens all came aboard right away and said sure, let’s do it next year if we can get it. There’s a lot of enthusiasm in the community.
The CEDC used funds from the municipal accommodations tax to help cover the $400,000 guarantee needed to secure the Scotties, and in September CEO Eric Zakrewski told city council they had agreed to continue to support the event should it have to be moved out of COVID-19 concerns.
Curling Canada officials said they remained committee to holding the Scotties on the shores of Lake Superior.
“These are unprecedented times, as we all know, and while we had to make some tough decisions for this season’s events, it was gratifying to see the understanding and support from the scheduled host communities,” said Mitch Minken, chair of Curling Canada’s board of governors.
“It’s wonderful to see that Thunder Bay will get its chance to host the country’s most prestigious women’s curling championship and see Canada’s best curlers compete in the world-renowned Scotties Tournament of Hearts.”
Lang said the delay just helps build the excitement and anticipation even more.
“I think the community is going to be really happy to have it back here, even though it’s a year later.”
Current ticketholders will start to be contacted on Wednesday and presented with a pair of options. They can either get a full refund, no questions asked, or they can hold onto their tickets and they’ll be honoured at the 2022 event.
Tickets for the 2022 Scotties will go on sale in February, during the 2021 event.