By Brandi Makuski
The Stevens Point Curling Center will relocate to Plover under a new name next spring.
The 60-year-old club will become the Sentry Curling Center when it opens next October on a piece of land just north of Lake Pacawa Park. Fundraising has been underway for some time, according to Kris Henning, fundraiser chairman, and so far the club has raised $800,000 from its 200 members.
On Wednesday, the Sentry Foundation made a $1.5 million pledge toward the project.
Pete McPartland, Sentry CEO, said when the Sentry Foundation Board was first approached about giving to the project, he was impressed by how strongly the club’s membership already supported the cause.
“When we understood the growth of the membership, and the passion and dedication, we said to ourselves, ‘We’ve got to get behind this,'” McPartland said. “We have a deep responsibility we carry with us to improve the community and the quality of life.”
Curling Club President Doug Anderson said the existing building is about 60 years old and is literally held up on one side by telephone poles.
“Several years ago we came to the conclusion that we’ve outgrown this space,” he said, adding the club’s current location on the Stevens Point Country Club grounds already hosts curling clubs from the Boys and Girls Club, Pacelli, SPASH, and UWSP, not to mention daytime curlers and league nights.
“We are bursting,” he said.
Since curling was introduced to the Winter Olympics as a full medal sport in 1998, membership at the club has doubled, he said, and continues to grow.
The new space will have four sheets of championship-level curling ice—twice its current size—and be handicap-accessible, as wheelchair curling is growing in popularity, Anderson said. The Sentry Curling Center will also have mezzanine seating overlooking the ice, and a common area available for rent.
The group plans to continue to grow its membership via it’s popular “Learn to Curl” events, held throughout the year, and will also offer scholarships for students who wish to continue curling competition in college.
Dan Mahoney, Plover village administrator, said the village board agreed to donate the land for the new center because it was “so important tot he community” and would help make Lake Pacawa Park a destination in Portage Co.
“It will be an economic driver for Portage County,” Mahoney said. “We have a lot of eating and drinking establishments in the nearby area, and it will support those local businesses.”
The club will continue fundraising, Henning said, and the $3.2-million facility will break ground in April.