It is three weeks since the announcement that intu Braehead intends to close the only Curling Rink in the Greater Glasgow area at the end of March 2020 leaving 700 curlers with no local curling rink.
Braehead Curling Development Group took the initiative and held two emergency meetings attended by over 200 curlers at very short notice to hear the opinions of the Curlers and Clubs affected. Bruce Crawford, CEO of Scottish Curling, attended both meetings.
The curlers were strongly in favour of urgently and robustly exploring the establishment of a replacement rink to serve the Greater Glasgow area. Bruce Crawford also explained that Scottish Curling and the Scottish Curling Trust had yet to find a home for their wished-for Scottish National Curling Museum.
A key issue is the need to deliver a new Glasgow Curling Rink as soon as possible, to avoid curler retirement and club dispersal to other rinks. Therefore, the BCDG has established a Steering Group to establish whether a new Glasgow Curling Rink and Scottish Curling Museum is achievable and viable. The initial focus of this Group is to identify if it is at all possible to provide a temporary ice facility for Season 2020/21 and to report their findings back to the BCDG at the end of January 2020.
A new build may take 2-3 seasons to develop while a building which can be converted potentially reduces this timescale significantly. It may be that a basic temporary facility could provide the capacity to extend to a permanent home in future.
The brief to the Steering Group is to progress discussions with Glasgow Life and Renfrewshire Leisure and any other potential supporters in the hope of finding a location which can provide a minimum of 4 sheets, is fully accessible, has adjacent and adequate car parking. An added bonus would be good public transport links.
For the future, we are very aware that we need to ensure long term financial viability and that this will require sufficient space for a range of additional attractive activities and functions, and alternative uses of the ice pad during the off season. They will look at the business models used at other successful rinks in Scotland such as Curl Aberdeen.
Gary Macfarlane is spear-heading the Steering Group and has gathered a number of volunteers with specialist skills, including myself, to support him and they have already begun discussions on our behalf. We will provide an update from them in January. As we identify the need for further specialist knowledge/skills, we will recruit additional experts to provide that input. If you believe that you have relevant skills and contacts which would be beneficial to this project, please get in touch.
The BCDG is the representative body for the Clubs and Curlers at Braehead and will explore the development of the project and share the findings and recommendations with you.
In time, the BCDG will need to establish a more complex organisation perhaps with charitable status to proceed with this project, but meantime we are working closely with the Steering Group to ensure that we achieve the best outcome for our curlers.
Braehead Curling Development Group