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TSN requests fee waiver at Fenlands for Skins games

BANFF – TSN wants to bring the Curling Skins Game back to the Banff Fenlands curling rink from 2019-21, but is asking elected officials to consider waiving the fee for renting the venue.
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The Pinty’s Skins Game in Banff attracts elite curlers such as Alberta’s Kevin Koe, front, who is a Brier, world champion and Olympian, as well as international stars such as Sweden’s Olympic silver medallist Niklas Edin, rear.

BANFF – TSN wants to bring the Curling Skins Game back to the Banff Fenlands curling rink from 2019-21, but is asking elected officials to consider waiving the fee for renting the venue.

TSN events director Richard Coughlin was in front of Banff council on Monday (Aug. 14) to request the fee waiver in exchange for bringing the major sporting event to the community and profiling the destination as part of its coverage.

“This event is successful for us, but it is challenged by economics of cost versus revenue and that is why we are here to seek an in-kind venue (agreement),” Coughlin said. “This is incredibly well-viewed on TSN, with an amazing backdrop and fit with Banff in the background.

The TSN Curling Skins Game was held at the Fenlands from 2014-17, but he said during the 2018 Olympic year the company chose to not hold the event.

It features both men and women competitions with a prize of $100,000 each and draws a total television audience of up to 3.2 million over the weekend it is held. It also attracts a live audience of 2,500 people to watch the event.

Coughlin said the event would like to return to the airwaves next year during Super Bowl weekend. In the past, he said, the show has been able to integrate Banff’s destination marketing messaging into its broadcast by using B-roll supplied by Banff Lake Louise Tourism.

“In today’s marketing world it is what everybody wants and it is hard to do seamlessly,” he said. “We will work closely with the Town of Banff on a traffic management plan for the Fenlands and not disrupt regular users of the facility. We will also have a zero waste plan for the environmental footprint.”

Mayor Karen Sorensen explained council usually does not vote on a motion immediately after a delegation has appeared.

“I would suggest, from my perspective, that council would need more information from our administrative team before considering this further,” she said.

“Administration (should) come back at the next council meeting in September with a breakdown of the charges to TSN for the multi-year contract and council can discuss and debate it further at that time.”

Councillor Chip Olver agreed, since council is only seeing the financial numbers of the request on Monday. She added it would be helpful to have more time to digest them and understand what is being asked.

Coun. Grant Canning recused himself from the presentation as he is the chair for the Banff Curling Club, which would also be involved in the financial arrangements with the broadcaster to hold the event.

The Skins Game in Banff has attracted many of the top curling rinks in the world, including Brier champions such as Alberta’s Kevin Koe and Brad Gushue, Tournament of Hearts champions like Ontario’s Rachel Homan, world and Olympic champions such as Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones and Sault Ste. Marie’s Brad Jacobs and international stars like Sweden’s Niklas Edin. Canmore’s own double gold Olympian John Morris (men’s and mixed doubles) has also competed.

Unlike typical curling, bonspiel or championship events, cash is up for grabs in each of the eight ends, with winners being the team that cashes in the biggest.

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