August 27, 2008

Inverness has ambitious plans for the future

I have a fondness for the Inverness Ice Centre! I had some great times there when I used to compete, and more recently I have been warmly welcomed when reporting on hugely successful events, such as the Skins, the Curlathon, the Highland Junior International, and the World Wheelchair Qualifying Competition. I have been heartened to see the improvements that have taken place since it was bought in 2002 by the users of the rink.

Earlier this month I travelled north and enjoyed a special occasion when the rink's birthday, and curlers' achievements, were celebrated in the Town House (see here).

I have been very much aware that a lot is happening behind the scenes and that the Inverness Board has ambitious plans for the future. These plans are still at an early stage, but yesterday the Inverness Courier has broken the story and revealed something of what might happen in the years ahead at the Inverness rink.

The original article is here. I urge you to read it. It puts into perspective the difficulties that many rinks around the country are facing, particularly in a time when running costs are increasing so rapidly.

But Chairman Tom Pendreigh is positive about the future. He says in the article, "I would expect to have an independent ice skating facility alongside an independent curling facility." Inverness would be a regional centre of excellence for curling and a national centre of excellence for skating!

The facility would also have strong links with the proposed new University of the Highlands and Islands' campus, with educational opportunities in the science of ice-making. Now, isn't that an interesting idea!

The Centre's ambitions receive support in an Inverness Courier editorial. It says, "The potential is enormous. A dedicated curling arena with spectator seating could attract a host of major competitions and encourage the next generation of Olympians in a sport in which the region already excels. An expanded rink could do the same for figure skating and ice hockey while doubling as a venue for conferences and concerts. Other options include a museum of curling, which would be an additional tourist draw alongside the new archive centre.

We urge those involved in the current talks to push ahead and seize the moment. There will never be a better time to seek support and funding than when politicians in both Edinburgh and London are basking in the reflected glory of sporting achievement."

Yes, there will be major hurdles to overcome, but today let's commend and support the efforts of those who are working towards a positive future for ice sport at Inverness.

The balloons at Inverness were at the 2005 Curlathon. Was that really three years ago? Photo by Bob.

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