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Grand Forks looks to expanded possibilities with new curling facility

Curling season might get off to a late start in Grand Forks, but the stones will be sliding soon enough under a new roof. After building and fundraising through the summer, the Grand Forks Curling Club is now in sight of completing its $1.1 milli...

Dan Lindgren talks about the new space for curling at the Grand Forks Curling Club in Grand Forks on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. (Joshua Komer / Grand Forks Herald)
Dan Lindgren talks about the new space for curling at the Grand Forks Curling Club in Grand Forks on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. (Joshua Komer / Grand Forks Herald)

Curling season might get off to a late start in Grand Forks, but the stones will be sliding soon enough under a new roof.

After building and fundraising through the summer, the Grand Forks Curling Club is now in sight of completing its $1.1 million, two-story building Dec. 1 for a new era of play.

On Monday night, the buzz of saws and smell of sawdust floated over the concrete flooring that soon will be iced over to provide space for four different sheets of curling matches to be played at the same time. Club member Dan Lindgren spoke approvingly as he stood at the far end of the floor and looked back at the work still underway.

"We've made lots of progress in the last few weeks," Lindgren said.

The club's fundraising is ongoing, but Lindgren said the funds are in place to get the facility built. Just recently, he said, the club received a full match for a $50,000 challenge grant awarded by the Myra Foundation of Grand Forks.

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Though the completion target is within a month, there will probably be a few loose ends to tie up even after curling begins, Lindgren said.

The team putting together the building's interior is largely in-house; a large part of the construction effort thus far has been tackled by club members, some of whom sit at the helm of local construction companies.

Though a lot of the more technical aspects, such as plumbing and electrical work, were beyond the volunteer level of the club's 250 curlers, everything else was member-driven, Lindgren said.

"It's a project that you'd see in a smaller town years ago," he said. "Things don't get built like this anymore."

Bob Bina of B & M Masonry Inc. in Grand Forks has been a member of the curling club since the early 1980s. He's now vice president of the club's board.

"Things were getting so bad that curling would have been done soon," Bina said. "We were one big snowstorm from being finished."

When the club decided to scrap the old structure for a fresh start, Bina was on hand to help put up walls. He said the peak of the new ceiling now hangs at about 28 feet over the playing area-nearly double the height of the old.

Raising the roof has allowed club members to build a second-story viewing deck that has helped to boost seating capacity to approximately triple of what it was before, Lindgren said. The higher ceiling level should also prevent the buildup of frost on the ice below, he added.

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Bina said the facility's amenities will "all be a good deal" for a club whose purpose had outlived its space.

"I've got four boys who are going to be curling here for a long time," he said. "They're all kind of fired up about it."

For his part, club member Mike Majeski still liked the former club building.

Majeski, a UND senior who joined the club when he started curling three years ago, said Monday was his first time in the new space.

"This is awesome," he said, looking around at the new playing area. "I haven't been over for any of the workdays yet, but I'm impressed."

Pete Zavoral, president of R.J. Zavoral and Sons, said he'd been in the club for about eight years and has been curling for the same amount of time. Though the curlers enjoyed the old facility for what it was, Zavoral said they also "knew we had to move forward" in light of deteriorating walls and other structural defects.

"We just went to the challenge," he said. "We needed to update it for those who came before to honor those guys we started it, and also to put it forward for the future."

Part of the effort to honor the past-and save costs for construction-is literally underfoot. The club maintained the floor from its old sheets and will maintain the surface for a new generation of play.

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But before any ice is scrubbed, there's still work to be done.

"Everybody's using their time and their talent well here," Zavoral said. "Those that have the talent are pitching in where they can, and those that don't are doing the heavy lifting. We're all just looking forward to a fresh start to the curling season and getting this thing kicked off."

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