Why do we want dedicated curling ice versus curling on an ice arena? With the great success happening with Keene Ice’s plans for a new year-round ice arena here in Keene (which is awesome!), we’ve had several people asking this question – and the reality is that we may need to use arena ice as part of our process of starting up, but our end goal is very definitely to have dedicated curling ice in the Keene region.
We touched on this subject in our FAQ, but I want to expand on the reasons. The primary reason is scheduling. With an arena, you are competing for time with the many hockey leagues, the figure skating clubs, the public skating time, as well as rentals and other uses. The end result is that you typically only get to have time for curling on one day of the week, and even then at a time of little interest to others, in part because you really need about a 5-hour block of time to do setup/tear-down and play two games. (A typical curling game of 8 ends lasts about 2 hours.) If you look at the websites for some of the arena curling clubs in the region, you’ll see that they are typically only playing on one or two days of the week.
In contrast, with dedicated ice you can have curling happening on every day of the week – and can also frequently run curling “bonspiels” (“tournaments”) that bring in people and teams from around the region.
Consider the schedule of activities at nearby Petersham Curling Club. Here is their schedule:
- Mondays – Men’s League with multiple evening games.
- Tuesdays – Daytime League at 2pm. Men’s League in the evening
- Wednesdays – Women’s League
- Thursdays – “Signature” League (A highly competitive league.)
- Fridays – Mixed (men and women) League in the evening.
- Youth Curling League from 9 – 12:15pm
- Mixed Doubles League some Saturday afternoons
- Rentals of curling ice some Saturday afternoons
- Mixed (men and women) League in the evening
- Sundays – Rentals of curling ice on some Sunday afternoons. “Under 5” (years of play) social league in the evening.
That makes for a LOT of activity! And there are other rentals that take place during the day and other activities that happen at the club from time to time. Here in Keene we would also see curling ice being able to be potentially used by the schools for physical education activities – and we could potentially see our colleges being interested in having some curling activities or teams.
Or consider Broomstones Curling Club in Wayland, MA. They also have multiple leagues playing each day of the week – and their club is full! You CANNOT join even if you wanted to! They have a waiting list and simply cannot accept people into their club because they have no room for people to play. Here is what their league calendar looks like (and this doesn’t include their active youth curling program, their college program or their rentals):
You can’t build this kind of community and activity around curling with just a few hours of rented ice arena time!
For scheduling, the other big issue is the hosting of curling “bonspiels” which are tournaments where teams compete. I’ll write more about the potential economic impact of bonspiels in another article, but suffice it to say they are a great way to get people excited about curling and to bring in a large number of people from outside the region (and to have them staying in Keene hotels, eating at our restaurants, shopping at our stores, etc.).
A typical adult bonspiel begins with multiple games on a Friday night, has games all day on Saturday and then usually has multiple games on a Sunday as well. Typically there is also a dinner or other social event involved as well. The point is that the ice is used occupied for pretty much the entire weekend.
This is a severe challenge to try with an ice arena given the many other needs of the other groups using an ice arena. The arena curling clubs with which I am familiar are often able to do a bonspiel maybe once a year – or sometimes they are able to get single-day events happening from time-to-time.
In contrast, dedicated clubs can run a bonspiel each month if they chose to do so… all really depending upon their own organizational capabilities. Some, like Broomstones, do run multiple events for adults, youth (and different levels of youth), seniors, mixed leagues and more.
THAT Is Why
This is really the big reason why our end goal is to have dedicated curling ice here in the Keene and greater Monadnock region – either as a completely separate facility or as part of an existing facility. We want to build a strong curling community and have a financially strong and viable club. We want to have many different leagues and other activities as we outlined in our vision.
Please join us! Help us make this a reality!