Our Priorities This Season
Curling is going to look a little different this fall amid COVID-19. First and foremost, our members’ health and safety is our top priority. Our objectives this season are to:
- Provide a safe way to return to league play in some capacity this fall.
- Retain membership for our club’s long-term health.
- Finish the 2020-21 season in a great position to host the USA Team Trials in November 2021 at Baxter Arena and help grow the game in Omaha.
- Develop and share plans with our membership about pursuing a dedicated curling facility in Omaha.
Seeking Input from Members and Partners
To determine how to provide a safe return to curling, our Board of Directors met with officials at the United States Curling Association and Baxter Arena, evaluated the USCA’s Return to Curling modified curling guidelines, and piloted these guidelines at Cornhusker State Games in July.
In July, we surveyed our active members and asked how you’re feeling about this upcoming season. Two-thirds of adult 2019-2020 members (119 of 180) responded. These are the main takeaways from this summer’s member survey:
- Returning to curling this year: A majority of respondents (51%) would only play with masks and physical distancing, and 39% would play no matter what.
- Requiring masks and curling: A majority of respondents (54%) would only curl if everyone has to wear a mask, and 37% would participate no matter what. 8% of respondents would not curl if masks are required.
- Limiting sheets to 1, 3, and 5 to ensure physical distancing: A majority of respondents (61%) would play regardless of which sheets are used, and 34% would not curl if all five sheets were in use.
2020-2021 Return to Curling Guidelines
Based on member input, USCA recommendations, and Baxter/UNO policy, our Board of Directors approved the following guidelines to enable a safer return to curling:
- Masks covering your nose and mouth will be required and must remain on at all times in Baxter Arena (including during play). Baxter will not allow entry into the building without a mask being worn. If you wear a face shield, you must also wear a mask. We’ll be sending out tips about how to keep your glasses from fogging up.
- We will implement physical distancing measures in the stands and on the ice. Try to remain at least six feet from players at all times. And remember, even in non-COVID times, only vice-skips are allowed in the house after the completion of an end to decide the score—resist the urge to join them and give them space.
- We will utilize only sheets 1, 3, and 5 to enable physical distancing. Sheet 3 should line up their stones and start their game on the opposite side of the rink.
- League Viability: We will cap league registration to 24 people (6 teams). Leagues will be cancelled if it does not reach viability (23 registrants minimum).
- Only one sweeper may sweep a stone (this includes the skip).
- No handshakes, elbow taps, or other physical contact (but do say 'Good Curling!').
- Since we can’t predict how the COVID-19 situation will play out through April 2021, we want people to assume that these guidelines will be in place the entire season. The Board of Directors will evaluate these guidelines as the season progresses.
Based on our survey results, a majority of members will only play if health and safety standards are implemented. The only way to have curling be viable this year is to create an environment where people feel safe curling. As members who honor the spirit of curling and camaraderie, it’s on each of us to look out for one another.
We will not have specific people enforcing these rules, but we ask that everyone helps remind their teammates and fellow curlers about these rules. If someone is repeatedly violating the rules, everyone on your sheet should stop the game until that person leaves the arena. Failure to comply with these rules will lead to an ejection from the arena, and you will not receive a refund. We can’t have people prioritizing their own comfort over the health of our membership.
By practicing these guidelines, we can return to league play, protect each other and the long-term health of the club, and be in a solid position to host the US Team Trials in November 2021.
We've received some questions from members this season expressing concern about not wanting the club to lose money or be in a more precarious financial place in order to offer curling this season. Our board has thought about this a lot this summer, and we thought it'd be helpful to share the following:
We're committed to keeping league and membership fees flat this season. Fortunately the club doesn't need to increase prices to cover costs. It's one of the handful of benefits of being an arena ice-based club: we don't have a lot of fixed costs or a mortgage to pay outside of renting ice time. Annual membership fees will remain flat at $100 per person ($75 military and $50 youth).
We also have a narrower expense margin to offer leagues. We're limiting play to 24 people or 6 teams across 3 sheets to support physical distancing and allow a safer return to curling. It costs our club $225 per hour to rent the ice, or $450 for one two-hour game. We charge $20 per game for leagues, which means that we *must* have at least 23 people ($460) in order to not lose money on each game.
Leagues are usually our club’s best ways to earn additional revenue to put toward free member events, new equipment, and saving toward a dedicated facility of our own. Unfortunately, leagues won’t be a good source for raising funds for a dedicated facility this fall (and potentially all season).
Fortunately, we’re able to return ice time with a shorter window this season and not be financially on the hook. We're instituting a league viability cut-off two and a half weeks out from the first game to ensure the club doesn't lose money on leagues. This will allow us to give back ice time at no cost if we don't have enough people sign up. Thus, it's really critical this season to sign up earlier than usual if you’re intending to play.
We also know that many people aren’t comfortable returning yet. And that’s ok, too! We know we’ll see you around virtually and when conditions become safer.
If you don’t anticipate playing this season, we encourage you to consider renewing your annual membership if you’re in a position to do so to help support the club and our long-term plan to build a dedicated facility of our own. Click here to renew your membership.
As always, thank you for being a member of the Aksarben Curling, and all you do to contribute to our curling community.