After decades of being ignored, the city of Toronto – Canada’s largest – will finally host a major curling championship.
Sportsnet announced today that the third and fourth events in the 2013 Grand Slam of Curling series have been confirmed. The National takes place January 23-27 in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia and the season-ending Players’ Championship, featuring both the top men’s and women’s teams, will be hosted April 16-21 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto.
The first two Slams are The Masters, headed for Brantford, Ontario in November and The Canadian Open, announced yesterday for Kelowna, BC in December.
The Hawk, as it’s known, is familiar turf for the Slammers – this will be the third such event hosted there since 2003.
Meanwhile, the Toronto ice surface they call “Mattamy Home Ice” at the Centre is, for those who aren’t aware, rather hallowed ground. For this is the new home of the historic Maple Leaf Gardens.
It’s certainly changed since the glory days of the Toronto Maple Leafs and NHL hockey. The Leafs now play down the road at the Air Canada Centre (or are supposed to, at any rate) and following years of neglect the Gardens was recently cleaned up and reopened as a part of Ryerson University – with a Loblaws grocery market on the main floor.
But the ice surface survived, as did the famous ceiling – which is a lot closer to the action these days. And where hockey legends such as Eddie Shore, Rocket Richard, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky once skated and scored, there will be curling sweeping and shotmaking from teams Kevin Martin, Jennifer Jones, Glenn Howard and more.
The Players’ Championship will mark the first honest downtown T.O. curling event – not including suburban events, ie. Mississauga – since, well, the last days of the Royals Classic tour stop at the Royal Canadian Curling Club. Prior to that, the city hosted the 1986 men’s worlds, aka the Silver Broom, at the CNE Coliseum. Prior to that, there was the 1941 Brier, following the inaugural series of Brier championships between 1927 and 1939.
It’s been a while, but big-league curling is back in The Big Smoke.
For more on the history of the Toronto curling conundrum, be sure to catch the November 2012 print edition of The Curling News, coming soon.