THE people running the sport in this province say they still believe we are the Curling Capital of the World.
The question they're now going to ask is if anyone else in Canada still feels the same way.
Officials with Curl Manitoba told a news conference on Wednesday that they are assembling a formal bid to host the 2013 Canadian Curling Trials at Winnipeg's MTS Centre.
Winnipeg is expected to be among bids from several cities in Western Canada to host the Trials, which has become one of the premier curling events in the world and second, in some judgments, only to the Olympics themselves.
The question is whether Winnipeg, which drew a crowd to the 2008 Brier that was barely one-half of what recent Briers in Calgary and Edmonton have drawn, still has the cachet to attract a premier event.
Curl Manitoba executive director Shane Ray is unperturbed.
"This is a high profile event, we feel it would do well in Manitoba and we frankly think it is one that we deserve," Ray told reporters. "We're very excited about it. We think we have a very good shot."
Bids are due by Nov. 15 and the Canadian Curling Association is expected to announce the successful bidder sometime early in the new year.
Ray said that he's been in discussions with both the province and the city, as well as corporate sponsors, as part of assembling the bid.
The Trials will not come cheap for whoever gets to host the event. Ray said a call for tenders from the CCA sets out a minimum fee of $750,000 to host the event and one-half of any profits would also have to be shared with the governing body of curling in Canada.
It's believed Edmonton paid about $900,000 up front for the rights to host the 2009 Trials at Rexall Place, which were won by Alberta's Kevin Martin and Cheryl Bernard.
The 16-team Trials event -- eight men's and eight women's teams -- have grown over the past 13 years and are now rivalled only by the Brier in terms of attendance.
While Ray conceded that Edmonton has staged much more popular Briers than Winnipeg lately, he believes we could match their attendance when it comes to the Trials.
"They're two very different events," said Ray. "Edmonton did about 170,000 (175,852) for the Olympic Trials. We truthfully think we could match that and exceed it."
Curling supporters in Edmonton point to the recent success of its competitive teams and blockbuster national curling events in support of their contention that the city has supplanted Winnipeg as the epicentre of the sport.
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