Curling in Brooklyn – build it and they will come
It’s a business of disappointing people.
And for Than Tibbetts, it all started with a walk in Prospect Park.
“When I first moved to Brooklyn,” Tibbetts told the Eagle, “I walked through the park and low and behold I saw people with curling stones — in Prospect Park.”
An unusual site for sure, especially for someone who called St. Paul, Minn. home – and started the sport of curling at a young age.
Tibbetts, a director of engineering at TED, has spent more than a decade building web platforms for large media companies including Univision, Hearst Television and American Public Media, driving development on projects that reach tens of millions of users.
His first love was curling.
“I began curling at the St. Paul Curling Club, one of the nation’s oldest and largest clubs, and founded Broomfitters, a curling brooms and equipment store in 2020.”
He will be a World Curling Federation-certified ice technician. He holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of Minnesota.
And most of all, Than Tibbetts is a dreamer.
He believes curling will catch on —and has caught on — in Brooklyn.
“The sport of curling is more popular than ever,” he said. “We’re a handful of curlers who think it’s just wild that New York City doesn’t have a dedicated curling facility. We’re going to fix that by building the Brooklyn Curling Center.”
For now, the Brooklyn Curling Club is minus a facility, and participants play the game under the skating rink at Prospect Park. “Nobody knows it’s there,” Tibbetts says, “But we’re usually at capacity.”
In fact, Tibbetts proudly says his club performs under some of the toughest conditions — outdoors, exposed to the elements and fog.
The club, he says, has some 120 members. “One buys a membership through our league, and you get 14 weeks of curling,” he said. “We have two sessions on Wednesdays and one Sunday. Membership is $750, for the four months.”
New York City Recreation pushes that price skyward, Tibbetts says. “Membership for indoor clubs in the Midwest is half that amount; and they curl twice as much.”
But if you live in Brooklyn, well, you’re stuck. The closest curling club from downtown is Ardsley, New York.
Yet despite the membership cost, Tibbetts says there’s no trouble selling out the league. “The bulk of our members are mid-career professionals; and some retirees. There’s parity between ages, gender and ability.”
And for the novice, 90-minuite learn to curl sessions are available. “Those sessions sell out quickly,” Tibbetts said.
“People are always trying to get in,” he said, “be it our leagues or learn to curl sessions — and we usually have no spots available. Seems we’re in the business of disappointing people,” he joked.
“We did a couple of free curling mornings at Bryant Park,” Tibbetts said. “We had live TV hits. We know there’s a curling community in New York.”
That community has found a home at The Canuck — the one and only Canadian sports bar in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.
“The bar is basically all things Canada,” owner Denis Ladouceur said.
Ladouceur is originally from British Columbia’s Vancouver areas and spent over a decade on Wall Street. But in 2021, he followed his passion and created The Canuck.
Like Ladouceur, Than Tibbetts is following his passion.
The Brooklyn Curling Center has assembled the premier team to help build a dedicated curling center, bar and restaurant, and events facility in Brooklyn.
The team brings extensive experience across the entire range of curling operations, from restaurant finance to ice and facilities maintenance at the highest level.
But for now, it’s Wednesdays and Sundays at Prospect Park.
Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR
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