Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Olympics done, clubs look to attract members

Here's a solid story in the Richmond Review that details the struggles and successes of the Richmond Curling Centre as it seeks new members. It's probably a story that could be written about just almost any curling club in the country.

“We enjoyed a huge increase in participation after the Olympics when it seemed everybody wanted to try curling,” says Doug Bradley, the longtime manager at the Richmond Curling Centre.
“Our rental business was up 25 per cent over night and league curling was up probably 10 per cent or more.,” he says. “We were packed solid.”

But the surge felt after the Olympics is waning and clubs are looking for ways to get younger folks in the building and keep them. The club in Richmond has found some innovative ways.

For some, time is another obstacle.
A typical eight- to 10-end game requires two to three hours to complete. But more notable is that fewer people—in today’s fast-paced world—are willing to commit to a full season. As a result, Thompson says curling centres are exploring such options as a 10-week season.
“If they like it, then they can commit to another 10 weeks,” she says, noting that it also helps that the games are played on the same night and at the same venue.
“It’s also a relatively inexpensive game to get into,” says Thompson.

Seems like the Richmond Curling Club is working hard to find the answers. But this is something this blog has looked at in the past: how to turn the excitement and attention from the Olympics into a program that gets -- and perhaps more importantly -- keeps curlers on the ice.

In my humble opinion, we need help from the CCA and provincial associations to continue and strengthen the awareness program for the sport and bring it to areas where curlers aren't, i.e. don't preach to the choir (how about advertising on something other than curling broadcasts?). Canada's ethnic background is changing and the need to appeal to these new Canadians is vital.

There's also a need for clubs to break the pattern and allow new ideas such as the 10-week program offered by the Richmond CC.

Anyone with any success stories to share?

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