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Throwing Stones

Curling is not just for the Olympics anymore.

Every four years, almost like clockwork, many Americans get interested in the ancient sport called curling, also known as “chess on ice,” when the medal sport gets its due during the Winter Olympics.

So, a little over two years from now, when the cauldron is lit for the next Winter Games in Beijing, those who tune in are bound to get—no pun intended—swept up by curling. Seemingly everyone is throwing around terms like hammer, guard, draw, hog line, and bonspiel among others. But once the flame is extinguished, then poof, back in the vault until the next Olympics roll around.

But wait? A curling story? Now? Not two years from now?

Curling is riding a wave of popularity that really gained steam in 2018, when the U.S. men’s team won its first gold medal. Some 185 curling clubs host approximately 23,500 curlers in the United States, according to the sport’s national governing body, the U.S. Curling Association, and those numbers are only getting larger.

Even before the last Olympics, curling was hailed by Reuters as “the world’s fastest growing winter sport.”

That spike has made its way to Colorado, but with limited resources—the state has only one dedicated facility for curling, and that’s in Golden—so the sport’s officials in these parts are feeling the pinch.

But, if all goes well, Colorado will have two brand-new curling-only buildings ready to go, possibly in time for the Beijing Olympics in two years.

Opportunity Zone in Fountain

For more than 50 years, the Broadmoor Curling Club has taught, developed, and promoted this sport to generations in the Colorado Springs area.

Just one problem: The club must share ice and time with skaters and hockey players at the Broadmoor World Arena.

A 34,000-square-foot, five-sheet curling center in a designated opportunity zone in Fountain would help fix that and give more enthusiasts a chance to learn and enjoy the sport.

“A building dedicated to curling would allow for a seven-day-a-week facility available to the community to learn and play a low-impact sport and to socialize and participate at a time and day convenient for people instead of only at specific times,” club president Paula Bloom says. “A facility would allow for true growth of the sport within our community and having a place where we can provide curlers the ability to compete more extensively at regional, national, and international events.”

The U.S. Department of the Treasury awarded 178 acres in Fountain to be available for development as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, an incentive program that features deferral, reduction, and potential elimination of certain federal capital gains taxes on behalf of private equity investments.

A Second Facility to Suit Denver-Area Curlers

Although curlers in the Colorado Springs area are limited to one day a week for 18 weeks when curling at the Broadmoor World Arena, enthusiasts to our north have a more imposing problem: They can’t get in at all.

Like the Broadmoor Curling Club, the Denver Curling Club (DCC) has a long history, one that stretches back to 1965. However, the five-year-old DCC facility in Golden has a waiting list of more than 1,000 individuals who want to play. In addition, the club has some 400 companies waiting to schedule an event at that facility. The DCC already handles about 100 corporate events annually.

“The Denver Curling Club has been unable to keep up with the interest from the public,” says Clare Moores, the club’s vice president of programs. “Although it’s a great problem to have, we hate turning people away due to our limited access. Everyone should be able to curl.”

Plans are underway to construct a state-of-the-art, seven-sheet, curling-dedicated facility in Lafayette with hopes of also opening in early 2022 to coincide with the next Winter Olympics.

“The new facility will serve a different part of the metro area and allow for more people to participate in curling, which will increase the number of curlers and help sustain the growth and interest in the sport,” DCC secretary Adam Stevinson says. “It’ll make Colorado an attractive destination for hosting national and perhaps international events.”

Not Just About the Competition, Though

Denver made a breakthrough last September when the World Curling Tour made its first-ever stop in Colorado for the Colorado Curling Cup in what figures to be the only annual event of its kind on the Front Range.

The cool thing about curling, aside from the ice, is that anyone can take part—young, old, disabled, kind of out of shape, don’t work out, can’t bench press the bar—it doesn’t matter. And there’s a social component to curling that’s not seen in most sports.

“Curling is a great sport for so many reasons,” says Moores, a native of curling hotbed Minnesota. “One that stands out is the emphasis on sportsmanship. The curling community is one of the most welcoming and genuine groups of people I’ve had a chance to be part of. You can walk into any curling club around the world, basically as a stranger, and walk away with friends for life. It’s customary to shake hands before a game, and at the end of the game, there are more handshakes and something curlers call ‘broomstacking.’ This is where you sit around a table with your team and opponents to discuss the game or catch up on life. Winners buy the first round.”