Club construction Coming Along Nicely
Stevens Point Curling Club update and 2020-21 Season Plans
It has been a busy and challenging summer for the Stevens Point Curling Club with construction commencing on the Sentry Curling Center while feverishly working to secure funding for the project. Oh yeah, and there is this COVID thing complicating both construction and financing as well as casting a shadow over all our curling activities for the upcoming year. Let’s recap where we are and plans for curling in 2020-21.
We broke ground in April as planned and much of the construction has proceeded on schedule. The project is really broken into two major parts. Keller has managed all aspects of construction except for the icehouse floor, refrigeration systems and air systems. The Keller portion, which is almost 80 percent of the project, has amazingly had virtually no delays related to COVID. All walls are up and painted, drop ceilings are going in, floor treatments are beginning this week. They expect to formally turn the building over to us in mid-November. On the other hand, the icehouse portion has been riddled with COVID-related delays, the most challenging has been the need to change subcontractors for our concrete floor and then having to work around the new subcontractors' already busy schedule. We had planned to begin icehouse work in late July. That portion of the project just started last week. Still, we hope to close the schedule gap. The current schedule calls for us to pour the concrete floor at the end of October. The floor then needs 30 days to cure leaving us scheduled to make ice in the first week of December. The original plan was to have ice by Oct. 15, so the best case at this point is we are about 45 days behind schedule.
At the same time, we have had subcommittees working hard on everything else needed to start curling in our new facility … curling stones, other icehouse needs (circles, hacks, bumpers, curling surface, walkways, cameras, scoreboards), ice prep systems, lockers, kitchen equipment, bar design and build, bar equipment, liquor license, bar procedures, technology, security, and clubhouse furnishings are all projects in the works.
This is a MAJOR project, but a labor of love for the board and all involved. We will have a facility that is extremely comfortable, functional, unique, and will provide a fantastic curling environment. We can’t wait for you to see the facility, if you have not already, and especially to start curling!
Just as we were finalizing facility design plans, securing subcontractors, and signing contracts in March, the potential impacts of COVID were becoming apparent creating much uncertainty. Given the extraordinary gift from Sentry, the support from the Village of Plover, and the state of construction plans, the board decided to move forward with the project. If we paused the project at that point, we risked losing the funding and costs would spiral. We literally took a leap of faith. We continued our fundraising efforts to close our $700,000 gap, but by April, it was clear that the environment had changed dramatically. Local foundations understandably made COVID-related community needs a priority over capital projects. Local businesses found their future clouded in financial uncertainty with many cutting back or even temporarily closing. We needed to shift gears and pursue financing. Our original plans called for only a $200,000 new facility loan from the United States Curling Association (USCA). Now we were in search of another $700,000 in loans in addition to securing the USCA loan. We were again blessed with strong members and community support. The Pineries Bank stepped forward right away and provided a $200,000 loan. The Village of Plover also responded to our COVID funding impact agreeing to a $500,000 mortgage against our building. We are still working to secure the originally planned loan through the USCA. The U.S. and World Curling organizations who fund this loan have experienced heavy COVID impact with curling events and funding derived from those events in jeopardy. We are still hopeful this will come through but have a back-up plan in place from the Pineries to step-in, if needed.
While we have been successful in securing the funds to fulfill our contractual commitments, we have also added a layer of new costs for our club to service the debt. Unfortunately, those costs will drive an increase in dues which we had not originally planned. Dues are further detailed below.
COVID has impacted our lives in many ways. Curling is no different. Most curling clubs in the state are planning to open, though a few, including Wausau and Madison, have indefinitely postponed the start of their season. We are planning to curl this season. We benefit from a wealth of good insights throughout the curling world on how to best adjust our sport to mitigate the risks associated with COVID. Recommended protocols include starting curling on opposite ends of sheets for adjacent games, use of only one sweeper, limited or no sweeping in the house, and social distancing on the ice. We plan to comply with all mask-wearing requirements. In the clubhouse, we will focus on social distancing, and again appropriate mask-wearing. We are fortunate to have a newly expanded facility with capacity beyond our current membership to facilitate distancing. Detailed COVID-associated guidelines are available on our website.
Regardless of COVID-related adjustments, it is not possible to eliminate all risks of a COVID infection in any group activity. We expect and understand that some members will decide to forgo curling this year or maybe wait until something changes later in the year to make them more comfortable.
We will also approach the introduction of any new curlers differently this year. We will not hold traditional Learn to Curl events. Rather we will provide orientation/training in small groups on a scheduled basis.
We still face some uncertainty with the construction schedule but are planning to have ice in early December. Rather than starting leagues right away, we will wait until after the holidays to begin league play. That will give us 3-4 weeks to acclimate to our new facility as well as curling with COVID restrictions. We will also use this time to train and engage new curlers as noted in small, scheduled training sessions. We plan on plenty of opportunities for open play, likely encouraging curlers planning to join leagues to come to curl on those designated evenings before formal league play begins.
Given the uncertainties of membership (both new and existing member participation), we are planning on the same league structure as in prior years. Our additional space will allow us to easily accept more curlers in those leagues if demand is there. And if there is interest in developing new curling opportunities, there should be plenty of available ice time that we can create those opportunities as we go.
With our new facility, we also can extend the season. Given curling will not be available until December, a bit over a month later than normal, we will plan to extend our season through April 2021.
We have historically maintained one of the lowest membership due to rates in the state. Last year's full membership dues were $230. In order to secure financing, we had to present a plan to support debt payments. Our modeling brought us to full membership dues for the upcoming season at $335 to support our costs. While a substantial percent increase, these dues will be roughly in line with Waupaca and well below clubs like Wausau and Madison. All fees for the 2020-21 season are as follows.
Dues and other fees
|Full Adult Membership
|New Curler (first year)
||$30 or $100 for a 5-year rental
| The 5-year locker option will help us fund our initial locker purchase
Registration will begin Oct. 12. Check the club website for more updates!
The 2020-21 Season Challenge
The first season in a new club presents a host of uncertainties in terms of both expected recurring and one-time costs. On top of that, we will be learning to manage debt for the first time and have the extraordinary uncertainty of COVID. COVID will cause some regular members not to curl as well as limit the number of new curlers impacting our revenue. It will also bring new costs to our club to effectively manage COVID. And, significantly, it may cause us to lose or limit one of our primary sources of revenue for the club – bonspiels. This is not an ideal financial environment for our first year. Yet, we have done considerable planning and are confident we can manage our way through it. It will not be without challenges, but once we get through this first extraordinary season, we will be well-positioned to thrive in the coming years.
If you should decide that you are not comfortable participating due to COVID this year, we ask you to consider paying membership dues regardless to help us get through this season. Your board thanks you for your support regardless!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact any of the following:
- Or any other board member.