New dedicated ice facilities for two established curling clubs

By Kim Nawyn, Director of Growth & Development,

Dakota Curling

out to establish a new curling organization. In fact, if the St. Paul Curling Club had space for new members at that time, it is likely Dakota Curling would have never existed. Over the past 10 years, however, members of


Dakota Curling have become a tight knit com- munity. Because the club curled only one night per week, members got to know each other well, and the club established a strong volunteer cul- ture. Troughout the season, each team rotated in to help prepare the ice for curling, including moving all of the stones onto the ice and install- ing the removable hacks. Many hands made for lighter work! While the club was successful at the arena,

founders Paul and Darcy Ellarby envisioned something bigger. From day one, they believed that Dakota County was an ideal place to open a new dedicated curling facility. It was far enough away from the St. Paul Curling Club, the only dedicated ice facility in the Twin Cities at the time, so that it would not directly compete for membership. Te community also had strong demographics for attracting potential members. Te dream of dedicated ice came true on Jan.

13, 2017. Dakota Curling officially opened a new six-sheet facility in downtown Lakeville, Minn. Te facility, which was ultimately acquired as the result of networking and lots of patience, was originally a grocery store. Approximately five years ago, the building was converted into a hockey practice rink. When the hockey program moved out, the owners of the building, who had known the club’s president through a local com- munity organization for years, contacted Dakota Curling and asked if they would be interested in moving to Lakeville. Te location in the middle of the downtown was perfect! When negotiating the contract, the club opt- ed to roll the build-out – including gutting the

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decade ago, a new arena-based curl- ing club popped up in Minnesota. Te founders did not initially start

building, framing in the ice shed, and putting in new viewing windows – into the cost of the lease. Teir biggest upfront expense was the ice plant and equipment. Nevertheless, with only about a month to get the club ready for winter league aſter gaining access to the building following the major renovations, the club members had a chal- lenge on their hands. In addition to club members giving up time

with family during the holiday season, includ- ing some practically living at the club for days, community members who had never curled vol- unteered time. Local businesses were willing to accept deliveries, and the hardware store across the street loaned the club its forkliſt to move equipment. Curlers from other local clubs also offered their time and expertise. Bowling Green Curling Club

Troughout much of its 50-year history, the

Bowling Green Curling Club curled on dedicated ice at the Bowling Green State University Ice Are- na in Ohio. As a result of renovations to the rink several years ago, the club’s access to ice was re- duced to only a few days each week. Tis inspired some members to think about the feasibility of opening their own dedicated ice facility. While out at a local bar one evening, a small group of curlers jotted some ideas down on a napkin. Tat napkin became the business plan that would ulti- mately result in a new four-sheet facility opening in February 2017. With a plan in hand, the board was getting ex-

cited about the possibility. Tey knew, however, it would not happen without the support of the en- tire club. When put to a vote, it was unanimous. Te club would move ahead with one stipulation: members needed to prove their commitment to the project by raising an initial $75,000. Tat goal was met within a month. Te organization was able to secure a signifi-

cant amount of grant funding from a variety of sources, including a local community founda- tion, competitive state program, and the Darwin Curtis Fund. With the final dollars from a con- struction loan, the Bowling Green Curling Club had the funds to convert a former Amish fur-

niture workshop and retail store into the Black Swamp Curling Center. While the club will re- tain its name, the facility is named aſter the Great Black Swamp that covered northwest Ohio until the 19th century. While much of the heavy liſting during the

construction phase was completed by the orga- nization’s contractors, the club strived to make the transition a group effort. Work parties were scheduled to get club members involved in every way possible. Te community also pitched in to help. When the members thought they would have to put painting the facility off for another year for budget reasons, a local Sherman Wil- liams donated the paint. In addition to purchas- ing advertising at the club, businesses also do- nated brooms, grippers, and other items. Even though the organization had dedicated

ice for many years, the curlers were not running the facility. As such, the board had many ques- tions about operating a dedicated curling rink. In addition to posting questions on the Business of Curling Facebook page, the club worked with a number of local graduate students to develop a survey about operating a curling club. Check out the online version of this article to link to the survey report. Te members also made a point of carefully tracking their transition process to eventually share with other organizations. Advice from the clubs

Both clubs encountered challenges during

their transition process and learned much along the way. Te clubs offered the following advice for other organizations seeking to build. Much of this advice is also applicable to clubs with dedi- cated ice facilities seeking to tackle major proj- ects. Become actively involved in the commu-

nity well before announcing the plan to build. BGCC frequently donates learn-to-curl packages to local charities. It builds goodwill and lets oth- ers know about the sport. Work to build a reserve fund before you are ready to take on a project. Tis will help when Continued on Next Page

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