The Thistle Curling Club has risen from the ashes to take over Asham Arena.
Just as the Sun indicated it was planning to do in January, the Thistle membership used the insurance money after a fire destroyed its old club to purchase the facility from Arnold Asham for about $250,000.
"It's an extremely proud moment," Thistle president Fred Sutton said yesterday. "You know, it's not even a year since that tragic fire ... and we've been able to come this far in securing a new home for the Thistle Curling Club."
The club did not get sufficient funds to rebuild but it did get enough to pay Asham and to cover the costs of such planned renovations as a new ice plant, re-working the rocks and upgrading the insulation on the south wall before next season. Garth Reimer will be the icemaker and the club hopes to lure back members who went elsewhere last winter. However, about 20 men's teams did make the move and co-existed under the Asham roof with Valour Road members. Although the club will be re-named the Thistle when the deal is finalized, it has yet to be decided whether it will absorb the declining Valour Road membership or if the latter will continue with its MCA affiliation in the same way that the Maple Leaf club does at the Grain Exchange.
The Thistle will maintain the major cashspiels, such as the WCT's Asham Open, and hopes to welcome back the rental leagues that were forced to leave last year.
Asham, who took over the Valour Road club two years ago, had offered to sell the facility to Thistle members.
"It was a pretty difficult venture for us so we approached them and told them if they were interested in buying, we would probably let it go," he said. "We did lose a lot of money the first year. We made a lot of renovations and put a lot into it ... This year, we backed off with employees and stuff and were only in it when we had to be, and we came close to breaking even. In the end, it was a good deal for everybody ... It cost us maybe $60,000-$100,000 but advertising does cost money and having it called Asham Arena for a couple of years was wonderful."
But Asham, at least, kept the club alive.
"The facility is much better now than when we gave it to him," said Graham Grimes, Valour Road club president. "We are happy with all the things he did for us. He was our saviour basically."
PETERS DONE?: Vic Peters is still recovering from last month's arthroscopic surgery and does not know if he will play next season.
"It's not great but it's 100% better than what it was," said Peters, whose knee injury forced him to the sidelines prematurely last season. "They re-trimmed the edges of the meniscus but there was no bone damage. But it may not be flexible. I probably should change to flat-foot (delivery from tuck) but if I have to change, I probably wouldn't (play)."
Because he cannot commit to next year, Peters urged his son, Daley, and lead Denni Neufeld to find new teams. Daley will skip his own squad while Denni has reunited with former junior skip Mike McEwen.
BITERS: Although rumours are rampant that Jon Mead will either re-join Jeff Stoughton or play for Kerry Burtnyk next season, Mead said he has not been approached by either ... Burtnyk, by the way, will compete at the Grand Slam in Nova Scotia this weekend. Stoughton dropped out ... The national Asham University Curling Championships start at Asham Arena tonight and finish Sunday.