CURLING teams across Scotland have warned that something “special” is being taken away from the country, after Perth and Kinross Council revealed it plans to shut down the “home of curling”.

Hundreds of curlers from all over Scotland travel to the Dewars Centre in Perth every month to use the same facilities as world champions in the sport.

“The closure of the Dewars is not simply a facility issue,” explained former world and European champion and Olympian Peter Loudon from Perth Curling.

“This would be the potential end of a local and national legacy, which is totally unacceptable. It is the home of curling.”

Proposals for the future of Perth’s leisure facilities will be considered by councillors tomorrow.

Collectively, curlers who have trained at the Dewars have become National Champions 138 times and medal winners at the Olympics, World and European Championships 86 times. This includes Perth-born Olympic gold medallist Eve Muirhead.

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Locally, there are 48 clubs with 744 Scottish curling members and an estimated 1500 occasional curlers that regularly play in the Dewars from across the country.

The proposal is to close the Dewars Centre, along with the Perth Leisure Pool and Bell’s Sport Centre, and create a single facility that will offer swimming and sports equipment, with no ice rink.

The council said that the three centres require capital investment of at least £18 million over the next three years, in addition to their running costs, and an annual £4m contribution from the local authority.

The Dewars is said to be mainly used for curling and indoor bowling, which together only account for 3% of total sports use.

“Curling is by far the most successful Scottish sport – and some would say indeed the only sport – in which Scotland excels on the world stage,” said Marcus Wood of Stirling Curling Group.

“Yet, it does not get anywhere near the ongoing and necessary financial support for infrastructure projects to enable curling to continue this excellence today, and certainly not into the future.”

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Vincent Bryson, the chief executive of Scottish Curling, added: “When we had this reported to us by the council, that they wanted to demolish the centre and rebuild one with no ice offer, that was a surprise and an unpleasant one.

“We wanted to be part of a conversation about the future of curling in Perth but we didn’t get a chance to do that.”

On top of the closure of the Braehead ice rink in 2019 and the Ayr rink last September, the closure of the Dewars will be another big loss to Scottish curling culture.

Olympic medallist Tom Brewster of Curl Aberdeen said: “There is no doubt that all ice rinks in Scotland are currently having issues. Facilities are the key to any sports survival – without them there is no sport.”

 “Curling will die without there being a sufficient number of ice rinks located throughout Scotland,” added Wood.

In an open letter shared by the under-threat Perth Curling Club, a young potential junior curler warned: “The news of Perth’s ice rink shutting down was very upsetting to me because my class and I just went curling there and everyone really enjoyed it and we all had lots of fun.

READ MORE: Scottish Olympian Eve Muirhead 'shocked' at plans to close ice rink

“Taking the ice rink away takes away something special from the whole country.

“I don’t think I will ever be an Olympic curler because curling is an awful lot harder than it looks, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still take part and enjoy something.”

Over the past few months, Loudon says there has been an increase of 40% in monthly curling ticket sales. This is due to the curling community’s response after a warning from Live Active Leisure that numbers need to improve.

“Every week we see people of all ages turn up to play a local club league game and be playing against the likes of Eve Muirhead OBE or another of our many world champions in Perth,” Loudon said.

“How do you think that feels for the regular club players? They are ecstatic to have the opportunity to play with or against them and then socialise with them after the game. Curling is unique in this regard.”

Wood added that Stirling has also seen a recent increase in members joining curling clubs. The sport is also said to be gaining accessibility with different game formats and curling for wheelchair users and veterans.

The National: The Dewars facing closure with no ice rink replacement.

Currently, the Scottish universities’ curling league is based in Perth. A number of Ukrainian curlers also base themselves in Perth.

The World Curling Federation also holds its head office in Perth and the Perth Masters brings in 36 men and women teams to Perth from all over the world.

Bryson warned that the lack of curling opportunities in Scotland will eventually have an impact on medals.

A total of 25% of competitive under 14, 17 and 21 curlers are from Perth, and two members of the Perth Juniors team will be representing Scotland in the World Junior Curling Championships in Finland next month.

Loudon, who is part of the advisory group Perth Curling 1988, has said no plans have been made yet about the current curling team’s future training facilities.

“Our full focus and energy at this time is to ensure that a curling facility is included in the scope of sports facilities within the review paper and that curling will be retained and sustained within Perth,” he explained.

He is appealing for people to continue lobbying local and national politicians, and key decision-makers, to highlight the impact this facility has on curlers, their friends and families, and can continue to provide in the future.

Brewster added: “From the outside, it appears that Perth and Kinross Council is making a decision based upon meeting the Government’s green energy initiatives.

“Unless the Government starts to realise the importance of sport in our lives and its benefits, then I fear for a lot of sports facilities.”