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SL Civic Center readies for World University Games’ curling

The Saranac Lake Civic Center (Provided photo — Adirondack Sports Council)

SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Lake Civic Center’s $7 million expansion and upgrade is on track to be completed in early December and the Civic Center will be ready to host the curling competition for the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games, according to project director Peter Dimmig.

“We’ll be ready for these Games for sure,” said Dimmig. “We’re excited to bring the world’s attention to our little town.”

The Civic Center’s usual hockey ice will be converted to five sheets (lanes) of curling ice. Ten nations are expected to compete in both the men’s and women’s events.

Defending gold medalists are Norway (men) and Sweden (women) from the 2019 Games in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. The FISU World University Games were not held in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. men won the gold medal in 2007, with future Olympic champion John Shuster and Olympian Chris Plys in the lineup. That represents the only U.S. FISU curling medal for men or women since 2007, when curling made its FISU debut.

Athletes and delegates are expected to be housed at Paul Smiths College, said Rick Patzke, who spent 23 years with USA Curling, including 13 as the national governing body’s CEO and is the director of competition services for the 2023 FISU World University Games.

The Civic Center will be getting improvements, including six new locker rooms with bathrooms; a new air-conditioned lobby area and entrance; a heated second-floor mezzanine viewing area; 500-seat spectator stands and conditioned interior space; an upgraded ice plant with new chiller; LED lighting and insulated exterior siding and a snack bar.

There’s also a new electric Zamboni, scoreboard and team bus parking area. The state-of-the-art building will be compliant with American Disability Act regulations, Dimmig said.

The project began construction in December 2021.

“The project’s moving ahead as good or better than expected,” said Dimmig.

Insulated siding arrived in June, three months ahead of schedule, and was installed this summer. The roof is completed, and concrete floors are set. With the building enclosed for winter, workers can complete interior construction without having to depend on good weather, Dimmig said.

New York state is providing a $4.5 million Empire State Development capital grant through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative and the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. Businesses and residents have raised $1.76 million and work continues to raise another $700,000, Dimmig said. Donors can support the center by making checks payable to SLCC, P.O. Box 1040, Saranac Lake, NY 12983. For credit cards, visit www.saranaclakeciviccenter.org.

With improvements like heating, conditioning and insulation, Dimmig said the 24,000-square foot building can be used for events like boat and car shows and meetings in the lobby and mezzanine.

“It’s exciting to see it all coming together now that it’s a partnership with New York State and Saranac Lake,” said Patzke. “It’s going to be a huge improvement and a legacy project for Saranac Lake.”