Crosby helps put curling club on target

A longtime friendship and the chance to further enhance Fort Wayne’s standing as a sports and recreation destination prompted Crosby Construction to take the lead in the creation of a new facility for a growing sports club.

The friends are Russell Jacobs, Crosby’s senior project manager, and Craig Fischer, president and co-founder of the Fort Wayne Curling Club. The club had been using the Lutheran Health SportsCenter for its leagues, even hosting tournaments in the summer of 2013 that drew top competitors from around the country and abroad. However, members of the curling club felt they needed their own dedicated facility that would give them the flexibility they needed to grow.

“The Lutheran Health SportsCenter is an outstanding facility, but very popular in the winter,” Craig says. “We weren’t getting enough ice time. More time was available during the summer, but we wanted to attract more people to our club and host more competitions during the winter.

“We decided the answer was to have our own facility, but none of us had the construction expertise necessary for such an ambitious project,” Craig continues. “I talked to my friend Russell, and Crosby Construction gave us the help we needed to make our new facility a reality.”

Crosby looked at building a new facility as a design-build project, but suggested that converting an existing facility into a curling center would be more cost-effective. And to boost the club over the top, Crosby donated its project management services.

“When Craig came to us see if we could help, our answer was a resounding yes,” Russell says. “I’m happy we were able to help.”

The existing space selected was the former Nickles Bakery and Thrift Shop at 3674 Wells Street, just south of Fernhill Avenue and near the Lutheran Health SportsCenter. Demolition began on October 4, 2013. Construction commenced on November 5, and the facility was christened with curling on January 18.

The new facility boasts a 10,000-square-foot ice area, enough room for three curling “sheets” and a 2,500-square-foot warm-room area for viewing and socializing. The cost of the project was $375,000.

“Crosby Construction’s participation in this project saved us about $75,000,” Craig says. “We’re very thankful for their help in making this facility possible for our club and the people of Fort Wayne.”

The creation of the new curling facility will have a positive impact on the entire community, Russell says. “This facility is definitely a benefit to the people in our community who want to participate, but it’s also good for the community as a whole because it will attract competitors from far and wide and have an economic impact. People in other communities are very envious of our having a facility like this.”

Asked if he’s a curler, Russell jokes, “I’m a novice’s novice. But all it took was the first time I tried it, and I fell in love with the sport.”

Curling originated in Scotland during the 16th century. Players slide heavy polished granite stones (38 to 44 pounds) along the ice toward a target area. Think shuffleboard with much more skill involved. Curlers can try to make their stones curve around stones already placed by opponents, and by sweeping with special brooms, participants can make the stones go further and straighter than they otherwise would. Calling for a great deal of strategy and teamwork, curling is sometimes called “chess on ice.”

Curling became an official sport of the Winter Olympic Games in 1998.