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Curling may be frozen out of Bally Haly

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Despite pocketing big financial windfall from 2017 Brier, there may be no curling at Bally Haly this winter

The club received a $117,000 shot in the arm just a year ago, and Brad Gushue’s two-time defending Brier championship team calls it one of their home rinks, but there’s a real concern whether rocks will be flung at Bally Haly Country Club in St. John’s this winter.

And if there’s no ice at Bally Haly for the 2018-19 curling season, it will leave only the Remax Centre (St. John’s Curling Club) with curling ice in the city, and on the Avalon Peninsula for that matter.

Noone from Bally Haly is talking — repeated phone calls seeking comment weren’t returned — but there is plenty of chatter within the curling world, especially in relation to a $117,000 cheque the club received last October, its 10 per cent cut of the net ticket sales from Curling Canada and the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier held in St. John’s.
The Remax Centre (St. John’s Curling Club) also got $117,000. Both clubs provided $25,000 to the host committee, their portion of the $750,000 financial guarantee required to host the Brier.

Naturally, local curlers are at best puzzled why curling may be shut down this winter after Bally Haly cashed in last year.

Some Bally Haly people privately point out the $25,000 the club provided the host committee came from its general revenues, not curling specifically.

Curlers, however, retort the only reason Bally Haly was asked to participate — and in the end, be the beneficiary of a $92,000 payday — came about because the club was home to curling.

The board at Bally Haly is said to be conducting an assessment of the club’s ice plant, which is about 20 years old. It’s not known if the club has, or plans to, inquire about securing grants from Curling Canada under its Club Development Fund.

Membership within Bally Haly curling has been on a slow, downward slope, by as much as 10 per cent in the last three or four years.

There are currently some 100-plus curlers who play out of Bally Haly.

The Remax Centre, in contrast, has experienced steady growth, including the all-important junior program as the game, thanks to the success of Brad Gushue, has enjoyed an unprecedented profile going back to his Olympic gold medal victory a dozen years ago in Turin, Italy.

“I think,” said one St. John’s curler, “it comes down a matter of will, and I’m not certain Bally Haly wants curling.”

robin.short@thetelegram.com

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