It’s a funny film for a difficult time, but it masks real anguish about the future of dedicated curling facilities amid COVID-19.
Jock Tyre stars in an amusing new video which echoes used car dealers and infomercials in promoting his curling facility’s available ice. The longtime Kelowna Curling Club manager delivers the pitch in fine hype-man form, but the message is clear: The club is still open through the current stages of the pandemic – for “casual use” according to the city – and there’s ice available. The pro shop is open, too.
KCC is known as a strong club with a vibrant membership, and one might assume they could weather the pandemic storm with only a few issues. However ...
“Covid has kicked our ass,” declared Tyre. “For the 2019-20 season we had a $1.5 million budget with over 1,200 curlers. The world senior and world mixed doubles championships were to be played here last April, and the Brier in March 2021. Now, in this 2020-21 season we currently have around 700 curlers and who knows how far our revenues will drop.”
Tyre said the pandemic pushed the club to get into video promotion.
“A buddy of mine owns Train Wreck Comedy, and he does video as well,” said Tyre. “He’s been shut down too, and has some time on his hands, not being able to do shows. He offered good rates on producing some video, so I couldn’t say no.
“The quality for the time spent has been awesome, and a little comedy goes a long way in delivering a very serious message.
“We started with a virtual pro-shop tour and expanded to add a tour of the safety precautions we are taking to make people feel more comfortable as we toured the camera around the building.”
The other videos are available on the club’s Facebook page.
Tyre believes the videos have delivered some success, all things considered.
“They’ve been shared a fair bit, but the best part is that people are trying curling and that’s all I care about. It’s all about keeping bums in the seats and on the ice.”
The club is one of the sport’s few remaining oversize facilities – it boasts 12 sheets in total – and an impressive lounge area.
“We are very fortunate to have an amazing restaurant that we operate to bring in some extra cash, and give somewhere for people to go to socially distance. Our lounge usually seats over 400 and we are down to 140 with some really comfortable spacing.”
Tyre is also shaking his head over major losses in off-season revenue.
”All of our summer events and trade shows were cancelled for both 2020 and 2021,” he said.
”Overall, we’re projecting it will take three years to get back to our old levels.”