A New Curling Facility for Pittsburgh
Curling was introduced as a full medal sport to the Winter Olympics in 1998, but it was television coverage during the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City that brought curling to the attention of the American public. It also sparked the inception of the Pittsburgh Curling Club, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Since its founding, the Pittsburgh Curling Club (PCC) has introduced curling to over 4000 people. The PCC rents ice at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center (RMU ISC) on Neville Island most Saturday nights from October to March. Ice rental fees are covered by members who participate in a curling league. Youth, adults, seniors, wheelchair curlers, and families all curl together in this one league; a testament to the inclusiveness of curling.
Curling is unique. It offers a challenging recreational and competitive environment, it does not require physical strength and prowess, and it’s very easy to learn yet difficult to master. Everyone can participate equally. It has a code of conduct emphasizing honesty, respect, responsibility, and good sportsmanship. This code of conduct, called the “Spirit of Curling”, has been passed down through the centuries since the sport’s beginnings in medieval Scotland. It’s ingrained in all curlers. The Spirit of Curling is central to the mission of the PCC.
A New Curling Facility
Four sheets of ice operating seven days a week
As a social venture, membership fees and other fundraising events support additional ice time for community programs. A popular Learn-to-Curl program is offered when ice time is available. This program currently has a wait list of ten months. During the 2010 Olympics, open houses introduced the sport to 929 people, and many more had to be turned away due to lack of ice time. The PCC has often donated ice time and run community outreach programs for other community organizations, such as Tickets for Kids, The Hope Network, The Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
The PCC needs to expand its programs, and it can only do so with more ice time. To expand existing programs, fulfill its charitable purpose, and continue to bring curling to the people of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the PCC needs a dedicated curling facility with ice available seven days a week.
A total of $1.34 million is required for a new, dedicated facility. A generous donation of land in Adams Township has recently been made by a founding member and past PCC President. In addition to the land, ice making equipment has been donated as well as funds from Board members, members of the PCC, and the community. These donations, combined with a commercial mortgage, can have $949,000 in place, 70% of the total required. Continued fundraising efforts are needed to obtain the remaining funds.
- Funding in place 70%
- Total funding needed 100%
Once built, the facility will be run as a social venture and will be self-sustaining through membership fees and event proceeds. There are almost a thousand curling facilities in North America, all are self-sustaining. The market for curling has been growing since the 2002 Olympics, and for the past seven years the PCC’s membership has been at or near maximum capacity for the ice time available.
The PCC is a member of the Grand National Curling Club (GNCC), the governing body for curling in the eastern region of the United States. There are 18 arena clubs, like the PCC, curling on hockey ice in the GNCC, double the number of just four years ago. Membership at dedicated curling facilities in the GNCC has also been on the increase. For example, the Philadelphia Curling Club, a dedicated curling facility, is at capacity and not able to accept new members.
The PCC has the experience needed to be operationally successful in a dedicated curling facility. There are Board members and members of the PCC who have curling facility operational experience. There is additional guidance available from the United States Curling Association (USCA), the GNCC, and other curling facilities in the Northeast. The PCC has run one of the largest open tournaments in the United States for the past eight years and knows how to make curling ice and how to run tournaments.
In the end, funding, construction excellence, and operational know-how, come to together to provide programs for the community. It’s all about programs. The PCCs commitment of donating ice time to the community will continue and, with dedicated curling ice available seven days a week, charity tournaments can be held. There will be programs for youth, high school and university students, adults, seniors, and wheelchair curlers.
Curling is about fun and fitness. All programs will emphasize fun, but there will be a competitive program for those teams that want to go far. It’ll be a little more serious. Only extensive access to dedicated curling ice can produce teams that can compete at the regional and national level, and (hopefully) represent the United States on a world stage.
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