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Brier finding it harder to fill seats

You can't go anywhere inside Interior Savings Centre in Kamloops without running into volunteers helping out with the 2014 Tim Hortons Brier.

Running into paid customers is sometimes a different matter.

Crowds have been disappointing and well below the break even point through the first three plus days of the Brier - a concern for Canadian Curling Association Director of Events, Warren Hansen.

However, Hansen says the low crowds are not a new thing for the Brier over past years.

"It's not a one off or unique situation for us here the last few years as it is with everybody else in the event business - we're all facing challenges to get people into the buildings," says Hansen.

"Many reasons for that probably...but no question it isn't what it once was. It's not just us that is facing those challenges it's pretty much everybody in the event business."

The break even point for the Kamloops Brier according to Hansen is about 90,000 spectators for the week, an average of around 4,000 per draw.

Through eight draws including Tuesday morning, total attendance was slightly under 20,000.

"Budget is a moving target and it's a complicated issue, but that was our initial calculation as to what we would need and we thought that would be fairly easily attained but, you never know."

Hansen says the CCA faced similar issues last year in Edmonton and in 2012 in Saskatoon.

He says while there were more people in the buildings, they didn't equate to enough people to hit the targets that were set out.

Crowds typically are lower during the weekday morning and afternoon draws because of people's work schedules and pick up during the evening and as the week goes on.

To date, the largest crowd was for the opening draw Saturday afternoon with nearly 3,000 in attendance.

Hansen says tickets are moving fast for the weekend and expects near capacity crowds Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Brier hasn't been to a smaller venue site since Kamloops last hosted in 1996.

Since then, events have been held in larger venues and larger cities, mostly on the prairies, in Ontario and Halifax.

In fact, the is the first time the Brier has been to BC since that 1996.

Hansen says the logistics and expenses of holding a Brier in Vancouver are too risky leaving only Victoria or the interior.

"Without question we expect support and we usually had it," says Hansen of those areas.

"We would like to go to Kelowna but we have never been able to come up with an arrangement there, particularly with the facility that would make sense for us to do it."

Hansen says the CCA has tried on a couple of occasions to bring back the Scotties Tournament of Hearts to Kelowna with no success.

He adds Kelowna is overdue for another Brier as well.

As for this weeks event, Kamloops native Jim Cotter, who throws skip stones for the BC champions says the crowd has been very supportive of him and his team but would live to see more of them.

"A shoutout to Kamloops to come out and watch. You can watch four great games - you can watch four sheets and see a lot of great shots which you don't see on TV," says Cotter.

"It would be great to see those blue seats fill up out there. That would be fabulous."


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