Oilmen bonspiel a go despite low numbers

By Geoff Lee

March 10, 2016 4:00 AM

The downturn in the oil and gas economy has decimated the ranks of curlers competing in the 49th annual Lloydminster Heavy Crude Open Bonspiel.
The economy is cited by event chairperson John Stanyer for what will be a downsized tournament of just 36 teams at the Communiplex Mar. 17-20.
“I think it’s big time – I think it’s a major contributor to what it is right now,” said Stanyer about the economy.
He said hopefully the economy gets turned around for the 50th anniversary in 2017.
Last year’s tournament attracted 56 teams down from 72 teams in prior years.
Back in 2005, the event played out with 112 teams.
Tom Fisher from Hurricane Industries got his $440 team entry in for his 49th consecutive event.
The entry deadline was Feb. 25 leaving organizers trying to figure out to make the draw.
“I know a couple of guys have been working on it,” said Stanyer who suggested it could be round robin.
“I am not sure how it’s going to go yet.”
Stanyer said prior to the deadline he made a lot more phone calls that he normally does to rally the troops.
He said some companies that previously sponsored three or four teams have cut back to one leaving some guys to pay for their own fees.
Stanyer said the lower turnout is also due to guys going on holidays or taking an early Easter break and guys who are out of work and can’t afford to play.
Once the registration deadline passes Stanyer noted it’s too late to add teams with time sensitive items such as printing the program guide.
Stanyer said there was never a thought of cancelling the bonspiel although that’s what happened to this year’s Wainwright oilmen’s due to weak sponsorship.
“You can’t cancel,” said Stanyer.
He said arrangements have been made to celebrate Arnie Lund as this year’s oil man of the year at the banquet and there’s no turning back.
“You’ve already confirmed the sponsorships that you do have and just because things look bad and you’re down teams, you can’t cancel it because you’ve got a commitment from these sponsors.
“They’re supporting you so you want to show them your support too I think.”
Stanyer said sponsorships are down of course due to the low price of oil.
“That’s a big time part of it,” he said.
He won’t know about donations until curling gets underway.
With the smaller tournament it was a no-brainer to shift the mixed banquet from the Stockade Convention Centre to the Prairie Room at the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds.
“When you’ve only got 36 teams you go in that big building there and you look like you’re in a huge cave when you only have that many people,” said Stanyer.
The official opening ceremonies will be held at the Communiplex March 17 at 6:30 p.m.

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