WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 21, 2011, 11:58 AM

USA Curling impressed with Fargo's Scheels Arena

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — More high-level curling could be in the future for Fargo's Scheels Arena.

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — More high-level curling could be in the future for Fargo's Scheels Arena.

USA Curling Chief Operating Officer Rick Patzke was impressed with the facility, which hosted the USA Curling National Championships that concluded Saturday.

"It's a fantastic venue," Patzke said. "It's well suited for this type of thing.. I had some players asking me if we couldn't come back here every year. The ice makers were extremely happy with everything. They made world-class ice."

Patzke said Scheels Arena would be a good venue to host a world men's or women's curling championship.

The World Senior Curling Championships are being held in St. Paul, Minn., in April. Patzke said that during that event he would like to get an official from the World Curling Federation to come to Fargo and take a look at Scheels Arena.

Grand Forks hosted the 2008 World Men's Curling Championships at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Patzke said that event drew more than 50,000 fans.

"If you put that in here, that means you would be jam-packed every draw," Patzke said. "A men's (worlds) would fit great, or women's. A men's, especially drawing from Canada, would get a good crowd."

Scheels Arena General Manager Jon Kram said the attendance for the week was around 6,400. Kram said the goal heading into the event was to draw more than 6,000 fans.

Kram said he could see the arena hosting another major curling event in the future.

"At the end of this event, we'd say 'Absolutely,' " Kram said. "We enjoyed it that much. To have a national championship here in Fargo, we really enjoyed it."

Fargo-Moorhead Curling Club President Amelia Young also felt the event was a success. She is hoping that having the national championships in Fargo will help grow the sport in the community.

The F-M Curling Club is hosting a curling open house from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday to give people a chance to learn about and experience curling. Young said the club also is planning to have a four-week mini-league in March so beginners can get a taste of curling.

"I think this event helped showcase our sport as well as hopefully bring people out to our club to try the sport," Young said. "I think once people start understanding the sport, it's something they are going to want to try more."