It was a dream which has been talked about for around eight years but now the new Red Deer Curling Centre is just days away from being a very concrete reality.
The $8.8 million addition and renovation is about a week behind schedule but curling is expected to begin in earnest Oct. 29th.
“The trades have really put their nose down and butt up and got right at it so we’re moving along really well,” said Rich Roberts, project manager.
The 2012 season was cut short in order for the work to get underway in time for the next season to begin and Roberts says members have been patient but are starting to get a little antsy.
“They keep sneaking in and taking a peek,” he said. “Their first impressions are ‘Wow’. They’re pretty awed by it all.”
More sheets of ice, better viewing area, new flooring and a high-tech ice plant are just some of the features awaiting curlers around the region.
Curling fans will also be able to catch the action from a different perspective while sitting in the lounge through the use of overhead cameras above the house of each sheet, said Roberts.
“There will be monitors up here so you will be able to sit back and look at the monitor and see what’s happening on the ice as well.”
Roberts says with 12 sheets the Red Deer Curling Centre will be the biggest in Alberta and he made the bold claim this facility will be the best in the world in his opinion.
“The technology that we have back in the ice plant allows me to say that because we have state-of-the-art compressors, sensors, computers and a dehumidification system to control the environment.”
He said the plant has the ice techs very keen on seeing what sort of ice can be produced.
“They’re looking for 15 second ice which is what you see them play on when you watch on TV – the Brier and the Scotties,” he said, referring to the speed of the ice.
The addition will enable the facility to host other events in order to generate revenue for the non-profit organization during the off season.
“The first thing right out of the gate will be the Allan Cup (spring of 2013 ) when it’s held at the arena next door they’re going to have their social space right in here and that’s a whole week so that’s a big event.”
The full service kitchen will come in handy for other events like wedding receptions and the Meals on Wheels program which also uses the facility, said Roberts.
The additional sheets of ice are also having an impact on the many leagues which play out of the centre. Roberts said starting times will be much earlier in the evening making it more attractive to be a member and the proof of that is already showing up.
“There’s already 30-some additional teams that have signed up and there’s 50 new juniors that have signed up to curl this winter,” he said. “So it’s a real exciting start and we can hardly wait to get hollering ‘Hurry hard’.”