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DeKalb to back new elite-level bonspiel

Monsanto Canada’s DeKalb seed division will lend its name and sponsorship to a major World Curling Tour bonspiel in southern Manitoba this spring.

The bonspiel, to be held March 19-23 at Morris, about 50 km south of Winnipeg, will be called the DeKalb SuperSpiel, Monsanto announced Monday.

DeKalb had sponsored the Red River Valley-area Super League in the province’s south-central region for the past seven years.

“However, entries were short this winter and it appeared the league had run its natural course,” Monsanto spokesperson Trish Jordan said in a release.

League organizers, however, approached the company with a sponsorship proposal for the new bonspiel, Jordan said. It’s expected the event will be the kick-off for the 2009-10 Manitoba Curling Tour and one of the final events of 2008-09 for the World Curling Tour.

The DeKalb SuperSpiel will include a 24-team men’s division and 16-team women’s division and is expected to attract teams from across Canada looking to make a last move up the points list in order to qualify for the season-ending Players Championship.

The event’s Canadian Team Ranking System status also means that teams focused on the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver may use the new bonspiel to try to gain points to qualify for the pre-trials event.

The new SuperSpiel’s total prize purse will be $50,400, “one of the largest in Manitoba curling,” Monsanto said. Men’s and women’s first prizes will be $12,000 and $7,000 respectively, both of which would be the second-largest first prizes currently available in Manitoba curling.

Winnipeg-based Monsanto Canada in recent years has sought to boost its brands’ profile in the curling world, sponsoring major events such as the 2009 Manitoba provincial women’s curling championship, the 2009 Tim Hortons Canadian curling trials and pre-trials qualifier, the 2009 and 2010 Tim Hortons Brier and the 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

The company last fall also extended its sponsorship deal with Manitoba’s Team Jennifer Jones through to the end of April 2010, and has previously sponsored a contest in which communities could win funding for improvements and renovations at local curling rinks.

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