A curling facility may be one of the newest attractions at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds.Crow Wing County commissioners, as landowners, gave their approval Tuesday allowing the fair association to enter a sublease with the Brainerd Lakes Curling Association.

The plan is to construct a curling facility on the fairgrounds just to the left when entering the south gate. The sublease is expected to start Sept. 1. Fairgoers may recognize the building currently in the space as one where Monster Ears are sold during the fair near the south end of the fairgrounds. The plan calls for that building to be moved and a curling facility with four curling sheets of ice, observation area, restaurant and bar to be constructed in its place. No alcohol would be served at the facility during the fair week.

The curling association would use the facility from Oct. 1 to March 31 and the fair association would use the building from April 1 to Sept. 30. The fair board has yet to vote its final approval.

Dan Thesing, fair board president, attended Tuesday’s meeting and said the curling association approached them about the building possibility last winter.

“We are excited to have them come,” Thesing said, adding the new building will likely be used for fair exhibits or vendors.

Having privately owned buildings on the fairgrounds isn’t new. For example, the Elks own the group’s food booth building. And there have been other non-fair events with alcoholic beverages on the fairgrounds. If the curling association would fold, the fair board would own the building.

If the plan is approved, construction on the curling facility is expected to start this fall and be completed in the spring. The curling association has been using the Hallett Community Center ice on Saturday nights for the past few years. This year, the curling group will be at the Brainerd Area Civic Center on Sunday nights. Curling could begin at the fairgrounds in the fall of 2010 with dedicated curling ice available throughout the week. The curling ice will not be available for skating.

A private donation of $650,000 from a lakes area resident is hoped for as a way to jump-start the project. Hoff said the anticipated cost to build the facility and rough-in a restaurant/bar for the future is $850,000.

The Brainerd Lakes Curling Association, which was formed in 2006, has about 75 members on 16 teams. Mike Hoff, curling club president, told commissioners he was confident the curling club here would grow with a dedicated ice facility that had ice time during the week instead of just weekends and they would be able to attract tournaments to the area. Fundraisers for the facility include events such as a Friday brat sale at Cub Foods in Brainerd. The curling association also will have a booth at the fair.

“It’s a sport for everybody from young to old, men to women and children,” Hoff said of curling. He said they hope to include high school and youth teams.

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