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(Tribune file photo by Rand Middleton) The Wednesday night curling league at the Blue Line Arena continues to gain in popularity.

Willmar to bid on U.S. national curling bonspiel

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WILLMAR -- A national curling championship bonspiel at Willmar? It could happen.

The Willmar Curling Club is preparing a bid.

Fargo hosted the annual event in February. Philadelphia is the site of the 2012 tournament which will determine both a men's and women's team champion.

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The previous three year the USA Curling championships were held in Kalamazoo, Mich., Denver and Bismarck, N.D.

But little old Willmar?

"They came to us and asked if we'd be interesting in making a bid," said Kevin Madsen, manager of the Civic Center. "They're thinking that perhaps a more intimate arena might be a better setting. We would have a chance of coming closer to filling the seats."

The Cardinal Arena has seating for about 1,200 compared to 5,000 at Scheels Arena in Fargo, which filled to about a fifth of capacity for the finals, Madsen said.

Willmar has had a curling club since 2004 and membership is near 90. Madsen has become a consultant in making the highly-specialized curling ice and helps prepare surfaces for tournaments, including this year's nationals. He will also be going to Philadelphia to prepare ice.

"Do we have a good chance or are we a long shot? I don't really know," said Madsen. "But the club is excited to have the opportunity to apply."

The Convention and Visitors Bureau is helping prepare the 36-page application, which is due in late July. A decision is expected in September.

If the bid is won, scheduling for varsity home hockey games would have to be adjusted to clear 10 days in mid-February, 2013.

The event would attract Olympic-caliber talent since the 2014 USA Winter Olympic teams will be chosen in 2013.

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Rand Middleton

Covers Willmar and area high schools and Ridgewater College, plus amateur baseball, stock car racing and fitness events in summer. Writes weekly column since 1980. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 

(320) 214-4334
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