Just getting started

KIRK PENTON, STAFF REPORTER

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

Arnold Asham is a dreamer. The Winnipeg curling supplies magnate said he is just getting started with his company's purchase of Valour Road Curling Club, which, by the way, will now be known as Asham 8-ender Arena.

Asham, 55, would eventually like to build the world's first curling arena in Winnipeg. Buying Valour Road, located at 280 Burnell St., gets the ball rolling.

"I've been trying to build this game for years, and what I'd really like is a curling arena with three or four thousand seats," Asham said yesterday. "We could host the Select (provincial men's championship) and host this and host that and rent it out to clubs to host events."

But first things first. Asham plans to make his club the place to curl in Winnipeg.

"We're not going to tear down the walls," he said, "but we're sure going to change them."

PRIVATE OWNER

Valour Road Inc., a non-profit group made up of club members, voted unanimously on Thursday night to approve -- in principle -- the sale of its land, building and contents to Arnold Asham Enterprises for approximately $200,000.

Talk of selling to a private owner began four years ago, but the membership decided to give it one more go. It didn't work.

"Over the last couple years our membership started declining a little bit, and we were getting to the point where we had to make a decision on how we were going to function again," Valour Road club president Graham Grimes said.

"Our problem has always been membership involvement in the club. We were down to a core of about three or four people that were doing most of the work around there.

"A lot of people were burned out."

Enter Asham, whose primary goal is to bring excitement back to the game. He wants to put his own new product -- electronic scoreboards -- up on the walls. He wants computers on each sheet so curlers can keep track of their percentages. He wants cameras at the far end of the ice and screens in the lobby so spectators can see what's going on.

"We like to think outside the box, and that's why we have been successful," he said.

Asham also plans to start up separate super leagues for the top local men's and women's teams. He wants to make it the most lucrative super league in the world.

Oh, and there will be parties.

"We do intend to really make it fun there," he said. "... During the MCA (Men's Bonspiel) we plan on attracting people to our club as a drop-in centre there. We're going to have entertainment going the whole time. It's going to be exciting."

The Valour Road membership, which won't be facing a hike in membership fees, can already see the benefits.

"Arnold is kind of a visionary when it comes to a lot of things," Grimes said. "He has lots of really fresh ideas. And that's something we were lacking."

Asham figures private curling club ownership is the wave of the future, but Grimes isn't so sure.

"I don't know whether it is or not," Grimes said. "I don't know if there's enough Arnolds to go around in the city. We consider ourselves lucky that we got in on the ground floor. Time will tell how this model works."


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