A call to get T.O.'s curling act together

GEORGE KARRYS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:27 AM ET

TORONTO - One step forward, one step back.

That could very well be the mantra for curling, The Roaring Game, with regard to Toronto these days.

With the spectacular success of curling on the world stage at Vancouver 2010 one might think that interest in Hogtown's large but stagnant curling market might finally explode.

It has grown, but there's been no eruption. Thank heavens, though, since there would be no room for many new players.

"From every club I've heard from, the numbers are great," Toronto Curling Association president Elizabeth Woolnough said. "They can't take any new members."

This is what happens when facilities close over the years and no new ones are built, a problem highlighted in last March's Toronto Sun feature – Melting Ice: Our Curling Crisis.

Greater Toronto Area curling is like a Jekyll and Hyde movie.

Schomberg is apparently eyeing a brand new curling facility that would open a year from now. That's good.

Meanwhile, millions of dollars are being spent renovating and doubling capacity to hockey's Leaside Gardens while the Leaside Curling Club – literally next door and equally city-owned – gets nothing.

"I'll be honest, I'm disappointed," Woolnough said.

The York Curling Club in Newmarket grew this summer, adding two new sheets of ice to their facility, and showed them off at a gala evening last Saturday. That's great.

Meanwhile, Toronto's Royal Canadian Curling Club at Broadview Ave. and Queen St. E. is still mired in construction problems after trying to replace the floor during the summer. Their revised start date to a season already underway is now Nov. 15.

Then there's the big curling events, those which draw national television, thousands of fans and pack the "Patch" beer hall every night for up to nine consecutive days.

Last October's Grand Slam in Mississauga, the Grey Power World Cup, was enough of a hit to warrant two of this year's four Slam events returning to southern Ontario: next week's World Cup in Windsor and January's BDO Canadian Open in Oshawa.

Things got even more exciting when whispers started about Toronto possibly hosting the 2013 Olympic Trials. Apparently Tourism Toronto, the Ontario government and even the Canadian Curling Association itself were all gung-ho for a Toronto bid ... but it collapsed.

Apparently Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment refused to send the Leafs and Raptors on an extended road trip away from the Air Canada Centre. Odd that the Edmonton Oilers were able to flee their Rexall Place for almost two weeks last December without any difficulty ... heck, they even embarked on their longest winning streak of last year's dismal season.

And what of an even better venue – the Ricoh Centre – also owned by MLSE? That was also unavailable, due to Marlies hockey and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

At this rate, Toronto won't get its curling act fully together until the cows come home.

BROOM BITS: Glenn Howard and his son Scott were both eliminated from a World Curling Tour competition in Portage La Prairie, MB on Monday.

The Howards were on opposite sides of the playoff draw and could only have met in the championship finale ... Sherry Middaugh's Coldwater, Ont., foursome was also bounced in quarterfinal tour action Monday in Winnipeg ... Glenn Howard opens the defense of his Grey Power World Cup of Curling title against arch-rival and former teammate Wayne Middaugh, November 3 at 7:30pm at Windsor's WFCU Centre.

George Karrys is: curlinguru.com


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