York Urbanist


This is the second in a series of creating a hypothetical and entrepreneurial approach to rebuilding the sport of curling in the fictional community of Aasvogel, Ontario. It started with http://yorkurbanist.com/recreation/curling/curling-a-recreation-to-a-business/ 


Aasvogel  continued to grow from its 20,000 population in 1988.  Its proximity to Toronto caused it to become a receiver community for those emigrating from urban Toronto and from off-shore.  No longer is the predominance of Dutch-British the norm.  Indeed, the demographic lines were blurred as two high schools contain 30% visible minorities, south Asian and Caribbean.  But that second generation Scots to which we referred in the introductory storyline were still represented, and within that group were about 80 former curlers. They had variably left the sport or found curling facilities within a 30 minute commute. One curler, Iain Archibald, was entrepreneurial, having set up a distribution centre in Aasvogel. His investments were now working for him. He was up for another challenge.

Others in Iain’s social circles included curlers, and most friends/acquaintances were baby boomers, still fit, comfortably secure financially and looking for unique activities. The venture was starting to take form is Iain’s mind. 

Could he get enough interest and capital to construct a curling facility in his own back yard? Then, could it operate in a sustainable way to serve his future curling career (which he optimistically estimated was the depreciation time of a building, 30 years)?  What resources would he need?  He answered his rhetorical question … his former club mates and some business associates would be contacted.

Before he could assemble a team, however, he would need to know a few general facts:

  1. How much does a curling facility cost?
  2. Where and how much land is needed?
  3. Where would the users come from?

He contacted his local Ontario Curling Association representative, whom he had become familiar at the club to which he belonged since Aasvogel CC closed its doors.  Through her, he was linked to planners familiar with curling and arena facilities.  He also needed to understand the local municipal building bylaws.  The answers to those questions were easily found:

  1. A four-sheet club was going to cost $2.5 million.  He did not know how many sheets he needed. He just knew he needed a place for himself and many friends.
  2. He needed to find 2.5 hectares of land within a 20 minute radius to accommodate an 11,500sf arena and 3000sf lounge.  Parking for 100 vehicles would be optimal.
  3. 2.5% of the population are active curlers and suburban communities seem to meet that criteria.  Aasvogel was now 40,000. 2.5% was 1000.  Could there possibly be a market for an eight-sheeter (100 per sheet is full use)?

Without being too wishful, Iain stuck to a plan for 4 sheets.  Armed with this information, he could now approach a core group.  Of his curling buddies, six Aasvoglans were curious enough to respond to his request to meet.  They would need some professional input, accountants and lawyers, if possible. His lawyer was from out-of-town, but perhaps some curling buddies had links. He knew others who were aging out of hockey.  A group of ten met over some beers at Iain’s business office.  The agenda: 

a)      Curling in Aasvogel again?

b)      Can we assemble enough capital?

c)       Where do we start?

Much discussion ensued, especially from the curlers on this newly formed team.  They were tired of travelling out of town to curl, besides which, the same old curlers were at their clubs and not getting any better.  We like them and will continue to get together, but if we could find a local place, that would be ideal.  On with the agenda:

Had curling left the psyche of the Aasvogel public? The curling world is fairly tight.  The group established that there were more curlers in Aasvogel than they had originally suspected, perhaps 40 that this group could recall.  But the facility did not have to cater to trained curling athletes.  What about introducing this sport to the visible minorities or the displaced urbanites? Would this be a centre of excellence or would it be a recreation oriented facility?  What would it be in the off season? This discussion seemed to be leading to more questions than answers.   The questions whetted the group members’ anticipation … onto the next agenda item.

How much capital? A quick analysis was put together by the lone accountant in the group.  He realized that the answer was in the amount of seed funding that could be assembled. A $2.5m investment was going to generate an interest expense of over $125,000 per annum.  Any bank was going to need solace that there was a significant investment to create collateral in this endeavour.  Any reduction in the mortgage or loan amount would reduce the interest expense. The question might not be how much, but what format of ownership would this facility take?

Where do we start? We have a great Idea to form a Curling Facility!  We are business people!  Curling is a business!  WE NEED A BUSINESS PLAN!

Start with:  http://yorkurbanist.com/recreation/curling/curling-business/

The story continues at: http://yorkurbanist.com/recreation/curling/curling-a-recreation-to-a-business/the-business-plan-part-1/