The Kamloops Curling Club has been shut down for the 2020-2021 season amid the pandemic.
“If we operate this year, we would surely use up our contingency fund and if we were forced to close during the season, we would be in serious trouble financially,” Kamloops Curling Club president Ron MacDonald said in an email. “It could cause the club to permanently close.”
The club will rent out its building at 700 Victoria St. from Oct. 1 to March 31.
“The rental income would allow a consistent source of revenue over the winter and remove the financial uncertainty the coronavirus is causing,” MacDonald said. “The board of directors have agonized over this decision and understands your disappointment.”
Kamloops Curling Club general manager Rob Nordin opted not to say who has rented out the facility.
The email notes a series of reasons why the decision was made to suspend operations: potential membership is down about 30 per cent from last winter, the club cannot host large bonspiels, gatherings before and after games have been discouraged by viaSport (the B.C. government’s delivery agency for sport), food and beverage income is projected to be limited, interest in hosting banquets in the club is down, corporate sponsorship has been reduced and no non-members are allowed to use the ice.
“We are not bankrolled by the city or a private shareholder,” MacDonald said. “We are first and foremost a curling club and everyone on the board wants to curl.
“But the coronavirus is having a devastating affect on recreational choices, restaurants, bars, banquet halls and lounges. The future of the club is more than this year. We owe it to our 70 years of history to do what needs to be done to give it another 70 years.”
The Kamloops Crown of Curling, a World Curling Tour and B.C. Tour event that was scheduled to run from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25, has been cancelled, Nordin said.
Two B.C. Tour events that were scheduled to precede the Crown — the Torchlight Brewing Classic in Trail and Prestige Hotels and Resorts Classic in Vernon — have also been nixed.
Nordin was at the KCC facility on Monday morning, talking with club members who popped in to clean out their lockers.
“They’re all fairly positive,” Nordin said. “I haven’t had anyone who has yelled at me, so that’s good. They kind of understand. You’ve got to keep people safe.
“Financially, I’m not going to say it was an easy decision, but losing money in a non-profit is pretty hard to take. If we had a shut down, who supplies that money? You don’t have shareholders, you don’t have the city or anything like that.”
McArthur Island Curling Club, which runs in a city facility, McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre, is expecting league play to begin on Oct. 5.
Team Brown — skip Corryn Brown, lead Sam Fisher, second Dezaray Hawes and third Erin Pincott — will be displaced this winter, planning to curl out of McArthur.
“If you would have told me in March that the club wouldn’t re-open, I think it would be a pretty big shock,” said Brown, whose team won the women’s provincial curling championship earlier this year.
“But, given the circumstances, you have to have more of that long-term vision. I can definitely respect the decision that was made and there will be a lot of clubs making decisions like that.”