Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Status of the Club

An Open Letter to Potential Curlers, Friends, and Members of the St. Louis Curling Club:

As many know, the St. Louis Curling Club is currently without a home after the US Ice Sports Complex in Fairview Heights, IL sustained subsidence damage in the summer of 2012. At this point, it is clear that the rink will not re-open in the foreseeable future.

Naturally, members of the Club are anxious to g...et back on the ice. Additionally, with the Winter Olympics right around the corner, interest in the sport of Curling has never been higher in the St. Louis area. Dozens of potential new curlers visit the club’s now-woefully outdated blog and Facebook page each day.

Now is the time to capture the enthusiasm for the sport of Curling and re-boot the defunct club!

There are significant challenges. Curling is a capital-intensive sport and a difficult one to arrange for game play.

Curling ice is not the same as hockey or skating ice – it is ‘pebbled.’ Pebbling is a process which takes about 30 minutes, and requires the use of a specialized piece of equipment. The pebbles enable the 44 pound granite stones, which have a concave bottom, to travel the distance of the 150 foot sheet, or area of the ice on which the game is played. Generally lasting about 2 hours, a game requires 16 stones and involves 8 players.

Other required pieces of equipment include hacks, which are a solid starting point for the delivery of a stone, specialized ‘brooms’ for sweeping the ice, and sliders, which substitute for curling shoes and make delivery of the stone possible. Finally, many curlers use a piece of equipment called a stabilizer, which helps the player keep balance during delivery.

Naturally, the price of all this equipment adds up!

However, the higher hurdle than equipment is ice – curling in the St. Louis area faces fierce competition with youth hockey and figure skating for time on arena ice rinks. In addition, many rinks don’t have curling rings – known as ‘the house’ – painted under their ice. Neither of these are impossible to remedy, but require planning months in advance.

Financially, the curling club model will support itself with prudent management – though the start-up costs and efforts are significant, demand is high.

What the Club currently needs to revive itself is a core, energetic group who has time to organize, recruit, and fundraise, as well as maintain a central point of consistent strategy for these activities. Time and organization are critical.

However, the revived club is not starting from scratch! Our Board of Directors is still in place and engaged to guide the process; Club members are still interested – all of whom have walked the road of starting a curling club from scratch before! In addition, the Club has a small amount of starting funds, as well as enough stones to play one game. Owning a set of stones is a significant starting point!

The Club will be hosting meet-and-greet events in both Missouri and Illinois during the Olympics - specific details to be announced soon. Potential curlers will be able to see actual curling equipment up close, watch the sport on TV, and discuss the game with experienced curlers. In addition, we’ll discuss what it will take to re-boot the Club and collect contact information for a later meeting to discuss a more detailed strategy.

Though there are significant hurdles, the St. Louis Curling Club has a future. Please stay tuned to our Facebook page for information on our progress!

We hope to see you soon!

No comments: