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Calgary set to become curling hub during pandemic

Last Updated Dec 2, 2020 at 6:33 pm MDT

Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes and teammate John Morris play their stone during mixed doubles gold-medal curling action against Switzerland at the Olympic Winter Games in Gangneung, South Korea, on Feb. 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

CALGARY – Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events.

Canada’s governing body of the sport proposes holding the 2021 national men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships, as well as the men’s world championship over a condensed schedule at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre.

Potential dates will be announced later as Curling Canada works with local, provincial and national health authorities to set up a “bubble” environment.

Curling Canada said they’re still in talks with all levels of government and health officials to come up with the safest protocols, taking their lead from the NBA and NHL bubbles.

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Economist Moshe lander says it’s good to see sports played in a bubble rather than not at all and while it won’t be amazing for the city, economically, it’s better than nothing.

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“It’s not going to save the city, it’s not going to fix the municipal budget, it’s not going to lower any property taxes, but it really is an approach of it’s better than nothing. From a Calgary standpoint, it’s better than Edmonton. (They) got their chance with the hockey bubble.”

Lander added it will bring some economic benefits to the city.

“Even if that’s just to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars rather than tens of millions of dollars, again, it’s better than nothing. I think that’s the bar that the city should be setting for itself in terms of how to gauge its success.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced domestic and international sport organizations to establish competition “bubbles” to avoid the spread of the virus to the public.

The Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park features four sheets of ice, over a dozen dressing rooms, convention space and a commercial kitchen.

Thunder Bay, Ont., was originally scheduled to host the Tournament of Hearts from Feb. 20 to 28, followed March 6-14 by the Brier in Kelowna, B.C.