Curling is coming to the Ice House in Blaine.
A permit request for a 28,100 square-foot curling facility next to Fogerty Arena has been approved by the Blaine City Council.
Bryan Schafer, planning and community development director, presented the Fogerty Board of Directors’ conditional use permit (CUP) request April 5.
Fogerty Arena Inc. will add an ice sheet to the south side of the existing arena.
The sheet of ice would accommodate six lanes for curling, Schafer said.
A restaurant and concession area, lounge and men’s and women’s locker rooms will be built within the $3.7 million curling addition.
A planned outdoor dining patio area will require a CUP amendment when the Fogerty Board determines space use. “They would like to get going this summer,” Schafer told the council.
The 30-year-old refrigeration system for the existing south ice will be replaced with a state-of-the-art system for both the south rink and the new curling rink.
A site plan presented during the March 5 Blaine City Council meeting shows a new parking lot will be constructed on the south side of the proposed building addition which will add 100 parking stalls to the parking field used by Fogerty Arena events as well as other city recreation uses in nearby Aquatore Park.
“We want to get into the ground within weeks and open in October,” said Arena Manager Mark Clasen. “We’ve been working on this [project] for four years.”
Progress on the Fogerty Arena curling facility has prompted two new developments, Clasen said. Both involve Olympic-class participants and events in Blaine, he said.
“We’ve received a letter from the U.S. Curling Association (USCA) stating it might move elite training to Blaine once this facility is completed,” Clasen said.
Rick Patzke, USA Curling’s chief operating officer, stated in a March 29 letter that his organization was “very excited” about a new, year-round Blaine facility.
“While no contractual agreement has been set forth, it is highly likely that this facility would be an integral part of USA Curling’s High Performance Program (HPP) and other activities, including regional and national championships,” Patzke stated.
“USA Curling is also endeavoring to enhance its coaching, ice making and officiating certification process. Such a facility could obviously play a big part in those plans as well.”
According to Patzke, a curling facility in Blaine could host numerous regional, national and international events. “[Fogerty] has two hockey sheets that can be easily converted to curling,” Patzke wrote.
Clasen said Blaine curling facility organizers have also obtained the right to bid on a World Curling Federation Women’s Olympic qualifying event in 2013.
“They sent me a rather lengthy set of bidding guidelines in an e-mail, asking if we were interested in bidding,” Clasen said in a interview Friday.
According to the World Curling Federation website, based on cumulative points earned for finishes at the 2012 and 2013 women’s world championships, the top seven curling countries gain entry to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games that will be held in Sochi, Russia.
An additional two nations will have the chance to win a ticket to the 2014 Winter Olympics by taking top spots in the World Curling Federation Olympic Qualifying Event that’s planned for December 2013.
“This particular bid request is for a World Curling Federation event through the U.S. Curling Association,” Clasen said. “It sounds like the World Curling Federation has already awarded the event to the U.S. Now it’s just a question of the USCA deciding where they are going to put it. That’s the way I read it.”
According to Clasen, Fogerty Arena Inc. will put up $500,000 in cash to build the curling facility, bringing the project’s eventual net cost down to $3.2 million.
“We may even put a little more cash into it, depending on how we look [financially] at the end of this fiscal year,” Clasen said. “That’s the original proposal. We are certainly on track.”
The building will cost approximately $2 million and the refrigeration system for hockey and curling about $1.2 million, he said.
Equipment, landscaping and parking improvements around Fogerty Arena will cost about $650,000, Clasen said. Aquatore Field No. 1 will be relocated as well.
Tim Hennagir is at [email protected]