York Urbanist

Archive for October, 2014

Death and Life of a Curling Club

October 27th, 2014

The 1960’s were golden years for curling. Space travel and Canada’s Centennial were generators of optimism. The Government of Canada encouraged building with grants that would transform towns in celebration of 100 years of confederation. And the sport of curling celebrated with multiple new facilities. At $100 a year, curling was an affordable sport. And for dinner, McDonald’s offered a meal that came with change from your dollar. The club was a place where guys could hang out, away from the rigours of family. Sons would have the opportunity to join in their teens. Timeline: 50 years later. The celebrations, that once haled new arenas, are now about founding members. But what of the facilities? The décor remains distinctly 1960’s – you know – dark wood panelling lounge; fluorescent and sometimes incandescent lights; uninsulated concrete block walls, maybe a quanset hut; and, of course, the centrepiece bar. And the programs? Well, women are allowed in the building, in fact, they have their own leagues. Heck, even some club presidents are women. That baby boom demographic, now seniors, is filling daytime league hours. Youth curling starts kids at age 6, sometimes younger. But the ‘Tween years, 21 to 45, ..where’d they go? And Canada’s culture? Drinking and driving is discouraged, and smoking is disallowed in buildings. Twenty-somethings are unaware of life without internet and other technologies. The Olympics has transformed curling into a sport from a recreation. Voluntarism is prescribed into high school curricula, but voluntarism continues to wane. On Death and Dying Some facilities in urban areas have disappeared. And why, you ask? The reason: lack of Technological Adaptation, slow to follow Recreation Trends and poor Financial Planning by clubs. The lands on which curling arenas were built now have higher and better uses in the middle of Canada’s metropolises. Curling Facilities can thrive and be a part of those higher and better uses. Some suburban and rural facilities only survive by limiting financial costs using voluntarism. Other facilities simply carry on, hoping that the CCA’s annual Capital Assistance Program will get them another 6 month season of reprieve. Gaining Life In this issue, we will talk Technical Adaptation and how it can instill life into a facility. Technical Adaptation:

  • Construction practices: Few new clubs have been built in Canada, but lasers and other construction technologies, mechanical/electrical, have offered previously unattainable improvements to the accuracy of ice making. Building codes now insist on well insulated buildings and construction excellence. Green buildings built or renovated to code will ensure reduced costs of operations and more comfortable facilities.
  • Water technology has improved. Firms like Jet-Ice, introduced water purification and demineralization, to make ice conditions better. Fewer complaints from wannabe world champions translate into less manipulation of ice conditions by ice makers.
  • 2014-10-07 16.33.52Scoreboards remain in the dark ages. Why has curling not adopted digital technology? With the push of a button or remote, change the score, so that folks new to the sport can understand. Would the seniors call it heresy?
  • TV monitors: Many facilities have installed cameras and TV monitors to watch the far end ice. Most monitors are for the spectators, but they can be useful on-ice as well! Replays? I have yet to see this possibility included on an ice TV monitor. That technology was available in the 1960’s! Mounted outside the glass, in the ice arena, a monitor can be accessed by spectators in the lounge and players. Mounted inside, only spectators get the benefit. Better yet, two monitors. Either way is an improvement to encourage patrons to stay in the lounge, spending and contributing to the corporate bottom line. And can you imagine a computer screen by the window to check out scores here at our club and around the globe?
  • Instruction tools: Where are the digital cameras and strategy rooms? Curling has roving camps that bring in ‘delivery-changing’ devices that are easily within financial reach of any facility and address the lexicon of the new curler. A camera is all you need to analyze slides and sweeping techniques. A computer, inexpensive programs and a small meeting room is all that is needed to discuss strategy and review the camera work. The investment of $1-5,000 can get you a classroom and a class facility. That investment could be recuperated in one year of teaching, with an organized business model.

Next month: Financial Planning for Curling Facilities This article appears in The Curling News, November 2014, Volume 58, Issue 1 with a different photo.