Curling leagues plan to open in Lakeland this upcoming season
It's hard to think that in a few months the ground will be covered with snow and the season of winter will be upon the state of Minnesota.
In November, a curling league will start marking one of the first leagues provided on the east side of the Twin Cities.
"It's a step in the right direction, and we are excited to provide this opportunity to the community," said Pete Westberg, one of the members that formed the league. "The sport of curling is growing and we want to have the ability to showcase this sport."
Curling has been a sport that's surrounded Westberg's life, and he's enjoyed each moment on the ice. But Westberg hasn't been the only one to enjoy the sport.
He said there's been a lot of growth and increase in memberships throughout the past couple of years. That growth is more than likely caused by the 2016 Winter Olympics where Team USA won the gold medal in men's curling and the majority of the team is from the state of Minnesota.
People in the community saw how fun the sport can be and wanted to try it in a league setting.
Since more and more people were getting memberships to curling leagues, Westberg knew the east metro needed to have that same opportunity.
"Curling is such a fun sport, but it also takes some practice to understand it better," Westberg said. "We're hoping to give that learning opportunity to the new members that play in this league."
Originally, the goal was to build a curling center around the city of Woodbury, but the cost to build one wasn't in the budget right away. A curling center costs anywhere from seven to eight million dollars, so Westberg and his colleagues took a different route to introduce the sport.
They are sharing ice time at St. Mary's Point hockey rinks in Lakeland, Minnesota. The league itself will be called the St. Croix Curling Center.
Westberg said the hockey ice isn't ideal conditions for curling, but it's a step in the right direction with the hopes of building a curling center for the sport.
"We appreciate St. Mary's Point for allowing us to share space and start this league," Westberg said.
The league will be cut into two different leagues with the fall and the winter. Each league will play eight to nine weeks of curling on Sunday afternoons from 4 p.m. to 8 or 9 p.m.
The fall season will start in November and the winter season will start once the fall season comes to a close.
There will also be some sessions in middle to late October to learn how to curl. This will allow new people to learn about the sport before the leagues start up in November.
Due to the smaller size of ice sheets, there will be a limited number of teams that can join. Westberg said about 12 teams can join per league, so a total of 24 teams with the two leagues.
The individuals will have to purchase their equipment, but the cost will be around $200-300 for both strap on sliders to attach to your shoes and a broom for curling.
The cost to join the league for St. Croix Curling Center is $100 for the membership fee and another $400 for a team that can range from four to six members. Four players will play in a curling game, but it's recommended to have one or two substitutes. It also brings the price down for each player.
Westberg said the membership fee usually gives players access to other amenities of the club, but this league would have many to start with because it's just starting up. The fee is needed because it helps the curling center rent out rocks that cost somewhere around $5,000 for the season.
Westberg is excited about the opportunity to have this league form and knows this is the first step to what the future holds in the east metro.
He's encouraging people from both the Woodbury and Cottage Grove area to give it a try and see if they enjoy the sport of curling.
In about 5-10 years, Westberg is optimistic the east metro will have its own curling center, but until that day they will appreciate sharing the space with St. Mary's Point.