Credit Union Place (CUP) employees were busy Monday morning reverting Eastlink Arena into a hockey rink after it spent the previous week hosting the Home Hardware Road to the Roar Olympic curling pre-trials.
The televised event occupied the Summerside facility from Nov. 6 to 12.
While the CUP crew was working on the ice, Tilmon Pineau was enjoying a coffee in the facility lobby.
Pineau has been a fan of curling for a long time and attended several of the event’s matches.
Overall he gave it a great review, but was sad that more people didn’t take advantage of it.
“The whole venue –iIt was hard to believe I was in Summerside. The way it was set up, it was remarkable,” he said.
He added, “I was disappointed in the amount of people here. The crowd was sparse. But the curling was top notch.”
As far as organizers are concerned, the event went off well despite some unexpected challenges.
JP Desrosiers, Summerside’s community services director, said the event sold about 18,000 tickets. One ticket was required to watch one draw and there were about four draws per day.
Desrosiers estimates the event brought more than 330 athletes and reporters alone to the Summerside area.
In terms of economic spinoff for the area, he pointed to the Kitchener-Waterloo 2014 Road to the Roar, which, in a post event review, was shown to have generated $2.4 million. Summerside’s event is expected to have exceeded that number.
Desrosiers added that he was proud and appreciative of the facility staff and the 120 volunteers who contributed an estimated 6,000 combined hours to make the event a success.
They could have, however, done without the high temperatures and rain that conspired to create challenging humidity levels in the arena on the second day of the event. To compensate for those conditions, they had to drop the temperature in the arena that day.
“I know a lot of the fans probably didn’t appreciate being kept cold. I certainly was one of them, but our ability to do that helped us keep the event and not lose the ice, which would have been catastrophic. So as cold as people were, there are facilities out there that wouldn’t have been able to do that and would have lost the ice,” he said.
The event also saw a logjam of required tie-breaker games, which was problematic for the Remembrance Day ceremonies scheduled to take place on the ice surface on Nov. 11.
“We thought we’d have the entire morning to set up and we ended up with seven minutes,” said Desrosiers.
But, again, everyone worked together to pull it off, he said.
“The City of Summerside just really stepped up. That’s a world class facility,” said Al Cameron, director of communications and media relations with Curling Canada.
The success of the Road to the Roar will be a feather in the community’s cap if it decides to pursue similar or even larger Curling Canada events in the future, he added.
“We’re listening to every and all inquiries from cities across Canada for our events. Obviously Summerside’s facility and staff at Credit Union Place are a terrific group to work with, so I can safely say that we’d be intrigued to listen to anything they might have to offer.”
The qualifying rinks from the Home Hardware Road to the Roar will compete in the Tim Horton’s Roar of the Rings in Ottawa from Dec. 2 to 10. Winners there will determine Canada’s four person male and female curling teams for the 2018 Pyeongchang, South Korea, Winter Olympics.