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Scotties organizers in Thunder Bay looking at hosting again in 2024

Thunder Bay set to host 2021 curling bonspiel this month
Rick Lang
Rick Lang, co-chair of the 2022 Thunder Bay Scotties Tournament of Hearts organizing committee

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts could return to Thunder Bay – with fans – as soon as 2024.

With all signs pointing toward Curling Canada enacting a bubble, similar to the 2021 event in Calgary, when the Scotties arrives in Thunder Bay later this month, local organizers say they’ve been told they’ll have first right of refusal for the 2024 event.

Curling Canada on Thursday announced it had awarded next year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts to Kamloops, B.C.

Rick Lang, vice-chair of the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, said the organizing committee was told it would be the frontrunner for 2024 if Thunder Bay chose to seek to host in two years' time.

“They’ve given us every assurance that we’ve been given first right to the next Scotties, or the one after that, if we choose, to have it back in Thunder Bay,” Lang said, reached by phone on Thursday afternoon by CKPR Radio.

“They were really excited by what we had planned for Thunder Bay and the ticket sales and corporate sponsorship that we’d achieved. They want to come back here and our committee will have to assess our ability to pull that off again and get funding sources in place.”

Curling Canada spokesman Al Cameron tempered those expectations for 2024, when reached by Thunder Bay Television, saying the bidding process has not yet happened.

Cameron added Curling Canada has yet to decide if a bubble can go forward in Thunder Bay, or if it’s even necessary. Under Ontario’s new COVID-19 restrictions, all ticketed events have been cancelled, though some elite amateur leagues are allowed to continue playing.

Thunder Bay was originally supposed to host the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, but COVID-19 restrictions forced Curling Canada to move the event to Calgary. The Northwestern Ontario city was later awarded the 2022 event, but had to halt ticket sales late last year when capacity limits were cut to 50 per cent, then to 1,000, before Monday’s latest announcement that essentially cut all fans from sports facilities.

“They’ve left the door open for future Scotties for us,” Lang said, adding it will take a lot of consultations with stakeholders before a decision to move forward could be made.

— TBNewswatch