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Wausau curling toward new $3M facility

By Jan Basina

Construction of New Curling Center for the Wausau Curling Club, Kent Street, two blocks east of Grand Avenue, Wausau

If the Midwest is truly the heart of the country for the sport of curling, then Wausau certainly has to be its beating pulse. And the Wausau Curling Club is determined to make sure that the beat goes on (or, in curling lingo, the stones keep sliding).

The curling club recently announced that it has raised $2.7 million of the $3 million needed to construct a state-of-the-art, year-round curling facility, which they hope will be envy of the nation.

The building, which will house eight regulation Olympic sheets of ice, will be the largest curling facilities in the nation.

The project, which is now out for bid, will be a 40,000-square-foot facility to include a 20,000-square-foot of refrigerated playing surface, a multi-row theater seating viewing area featuring a full floor-to-ceiling glass window, locker rooms and kitchen facilities. Bidding ends Feb. 17.

But not the debate – Is curling really a sport?

Maybe if I lived in Wausau, I’d call curling a sport. But I don’t. My only exposure to the game, like most of you – I’ll bet – has been from TV. Tuning into the Winter Olympics at an inopportune time.

Expecting to watch an event filled with spectacular spills or drama, only to end up staring at “athletes” sweeping pucks down a sheet of ice, (just maybe one of the sweepers, at the very least, will trip over a broom).

Curling fans, I’m sure, disagree. Even though the game might seem slow-paced to the uninitiated, enthusiasts insist that the game is addicting if people are willing to just give it a try. According to the Wausau Curling Club’s literature, there’s a good bit of skill, strategy, finesse, and yes, a little luck, needed to successfully participate at any level. And in Wausau that means high school programs, men’s, women’s, mixed, and senior leagues, along with curling tournaments, which are called bonspiels.

The city of Wausau also wants to ensure the project’s success and is betting on the new facility to bring in many tourism dollars. The city’s finance committee has committed more than $300,000 to build a public road off Kent Street, which will lead up to the curling club’s parking lot and offer a turn-around. The city will decide in the coming months what sort of road will be required for the site.

By making this major commitment now, the Wausau Curling Club is assuring that the sport of curling continues to thrive well into the future in Marathon County’s largest city.

And the beat goes on.

Jan Basina is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. She’s more of a luge girl.

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