Almost $9 million later, the Red Deer Curling Centre is nearly ready for curlers to throw the first stones.
Renewal work began on the 57-year-old facility, located at 4725 43rd St., in mid-February and the bulk of the work is expected to wrap up later this month, said Rich Roberts, project manager.
“We plan to be curling by the (Oct.) 29th,” said Roberts.
On Tuesday, the compressors were tested and it is expected the ice will be ready by the end of October.
“We’re moving along with the final stages of commissioning the ice plant. We hope to start making ice next week,” said Roberts.
The $8.8-million expansion and renovation project will increase the number of sheets at the rink to 12 from eight and significantly upgrade the ice plant. Also included in the project are: upgrades to the viewing area and lounge on the second floor, including extending it to cover all 12 sheets; new dressing rooms; renovating the offices, storage area and small concession area and adding more seats. Almost 38,000 square feet were added to the building.
“This is now a world class curling facility,” said Roberts. “Might well be the finest curling facility in the world, because of the technology we have and the viewing we have from the warm side where we have wall to wall glass overlooking the ice.”
The upgrades will be put to the test very quickly after the ice is laid down as the curling centre is set to host a World Curling Tour event from Nov. 2 to 5. Roberts said about 20 of the top 25 women’s teams in the world will be there and a significant number of the men’s top teams as well. In total, there are 32 women’s teams and 28 men’s teams for the bonspiel, including teams from China, Japan, Russia and Switzerland.
Construction crews are now cleaning the floor, putting cameras over the ice, drywalling, painting and getting ready for carpeting.
Although the sheets will likely be ready in time for Oct. 29, there will still be work to do, which Roberts expects will wrap up by the end of the year.
“There will still some finishes in some of the rooms,” said Roberts. “Not all of the flooring and not all of the painting will be done.”
The old ice area was totally demolished in the renovation and the front end, which was built in 1995, was extended to line up with the 12 sheets.
“People will be amazed at what they see,” said Roberts.
“There was a tremendous need, we needed to do it several years ago. We were able to move forward because we got some funding from the City of Red Deer.”
The project was funded through a significant contribution from the city, $5 million as part of the 2012 municipal capital budget and an additional $1.175 million that was approved previously. Additional funding came from grants, increased member dues and some money from the Scotties Tournament of Hearts 2012 revenues.
At the end of last curling season, the curling centre had 1,200 members, but Roberts said this season they have already had 35 more teams register and 50 new juniors sign up, compared to last season.