The Chaska Curling Center, opened in 2015, boasted one of the largest membership bases around the country with close to 1,000. The six-sheet arena became a national training center for USA Curling.
Like many things in life, COVID certainly took its toll on the downtown facility. There were 15-20% drops in league teams and membership numbers over the 2021 winter season.
But this spring things are looking up.
“As expected, some members were not comfortable taking to the ice this season. There was a lot of concern and uncertainty surrounding the situation. We worked hard each and every day to have a clean and safe environment for those that were comfortable curling this year and look forward to welcoming back those that took the season off when they are ready to return,” said Chaska Curling Center Manager Jeff Isaacson. “As of late, there is much optimism as the ice is seeing lots of use from programming, rentals and practices.”
The spring curling league season begins May 2 and lasts through June 21. There are leagues on each weeknight, Monday through Friday.
“Like every business, we had to learn how to navigate COVID and ensure we are keeping our members and guests safe. We were forced to close during the two state of Minnesota shutdowns. The first shutdown last March resulted in us taking the ice out early to save on energy costs. Once back up and running, our COVID safety plan changed the way things looked a bit,” Isaacson said.
Traditional pre-and post-game handshakes were discontinued. Gatherings after games could no longer happen with social distancing requirements. Masks became the norm at all times in the facility and on the ice. Touch point disinfecting now takes place after any practice or game.
“We staggered the starting ends so every other sheet of ice starts at a different end of the arena to space people out. In the end, curlers have done a great job adjusting to the changes and people have stayed safe,” Isaacson said.
While leagues have continued, Bonspiels or curling tournaments, were put on pause.
Isaacson said while things may look a little different, one thing hasn’t changed and that is “fun.” The center continues to offer group events.
“Many are looking for team-building events as work from home and alternate work arrangements have made it difficult to come together. We encourage those looking for a fun outing to reach out. We have meeting space and catering options for those who want to make a day of it,” Isaacson said.
Most group events come in with no curling experience.
“This makes for a fun environment where everyone is starting from the same place and learning a new skill together. Form your office teams and give curling a try! Group sizes of four people per lane and up,” Isaacson said.