Thousands hurry hard into St. John's as 2017 Brier kicks off

Thousands hurry hard into St. John's as 2017 Brier kicks off

The 2017 Tim Hortons Brier has officially started in St. John's, and the excitement is being felt by curling fans and local businesses alike.

Pre-qualifying games started Thursday night at Mile One Centre, with the first draws of the tournament set to begin on Saturday.

Olympic curler and the morning master of ceremonies Jamie Korab has been to several Briers over the years, and said he's known for years that St. John's would be a great host city.

"Everywhere I go, whether it's Costco or Wal-Mart or wherever I am, people are stopping me and asking me about it," he told the St. John's Morning Show.

"The arena looks fantastic, the ice is amazing, we're in for quite a treat the next nine days."

Economic boost

Korab suspects all the teams and fans that are traveling to St. John's for the Brier will be a big economic shot in the arm for businesses in the downtown area — something that should be welcome during the usually slow month of March.

"I've got friends from Norway that are coming over and staying at an Airbnb, the boys from the Northwest Territories were at the [St. John's] Fish Exchange last night, so it's amazing," he said. "We're going to have thousands of people in here."

Some downtown shops and restaurants are embracing and celebrating the Brier in their own way, looking to attract those visiting the city.

At the Newfoundland Chocolate Company on Duckworth Street, owner/chocolatier Christina Dove has been busy preparing a Brier-themed window display — which includes curling rocks and brooms she made herself from chocolate.

"We love promoting Newfoundland," she said. "We're so excited when all these people from all across Canada are coming because it's a chance for us to show how incredible Newfoundland is and how proud we are of our province."

Big Party

Korab said besides being Canada's premiere curling tournament, the Brier is also one of the best parties in sports.

He said people who aren't familiar with it may not realize just how fun the atmosphere is at the Brier Patch; which is the party area in the St. John's Convention Centre where 2,200 athletes and fans can pack in for food, drinks and live music from local performers.

"There's a fair amount of beverages consumed there and it's just going to be an amazing time," he said."