THE proposed closure of a “totemic” curling facility in Perth could impact on Scotland’s ability to field Olympic medal contenders, the boss of Scottish Curling has warned.

Perth and Kinross Council has tabled plans to shut down the ice rink at the Dewars Centre where Olympic gold medallist Eve Muirhead learnt to curl and countless other stars honed their craft.

Vincent Bryson, the CEO of Scottish Curling, has described Dewars as the “Hampden Park of curling”, insisting it would be unimaginable not to have the sport being played in the city.

“Perth has been a totemic lighthouse facility for curling for many years and you won’t find any curling success, be it Eve Muirhead, Bruce Mouat, Rhona Howie [formerly Martin], that hasn’t gone through Perth in some way,” he told The National.

“We have to have curling in Perth. It is the Hampden Park of curling.

READ MORE: Is Scotland slipping towards a future without ice rinks?

“People come from across the world because there is a tangible history around the Dewars Centre. If it’s not Dewars, then we need to have a conversation about what curling does look like in Perth and have a seamless transition.”

Ice rinks are closing across Scotland at an alarming rate, with the facility in Ayr having closed last September due to surging energy prices.

Braehead’s rink shut down prior to that in 2019 and left Glaswegians with nowhere to curl.

Mouat (below centre) – who led Scotland to victory in the World Championships last year and is an Olympic silver medallist – told The National last year the hike in energy prices was destroying momentum sparked in the sport following the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.

It’s not a trend that looks as if it’s going to change any time soon and Bryson said if the pattern keeps going, it could eventually impact on Scotland and Team GB’s medal chances.

He said: “There is a particular success in the junior programme in Perth and that’s down to volunteers, who are established curlers who have really put work in to junior development.

The National: Scots in Team GB won silver at the Beijing 2022 Winter OlympicsScots in Team GB won silver at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics (Image: PA)

“To have this massive threat hanging over them, there is an element of people thinking ‘what’s the point if the venue is closing?’. You are eroding that positivity.

“We had Ayr closing, six months later we’re talking about Perth, in another six months we might be talking about somewhere else, and it becomes a pattern.

“So it is an extinction level event. This is an erosion of opportunity, and by the 2030 Olympics, potentially our opportunities to get on ice would be restricted.

“Eventually the lack of opportunity will impact the medals for sure, cast iron guarantee.”

The proposal to replace Dewars, Perth Leisure Pool and Bell’s Sport Centre with one single site offering swimming and sport facilities – with no ice rink – is set to be voted on by councillors on Monday.

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

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Council chiefs say the cost of running Dewars is “relatively much higher” because of its size and it being mainly used to run curling and indoor bowling, which together account for only 3% of total sports use.

Bryson said participation in curling over the last few months in Perth had “markedly increased” after a tough period following the pandemic thanks to the enthusiasm of volunteers and the community.

He said he had hoped to be able to make a case for the future of the sport in the city before plans were lodged, but insisted he will put forward arguments at the meeting next week.

“The community in Perth has massively stepped up in the last few months since the ice went back down,” said Bryson.

“The amount of junior and volunteer activity, the amount of people going curling there has increased markedly.

“So when we had this report presented 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 chance to do that.

“There’s huge interest worldwide in what is going on at Dewars.

“The prospect of having no curling in the city of Perth is difficult to swallow.

“I am looking forward to going along on Monday. There is no benefit for curling in what is being proposed.”

This week, council leader Grant Laing said: "We want everyone in Perth and Kinross to live life well and supporting people to live active and healthy lives is key to that ambition.

"However, given the strain on the public purse it is essential we provide the right mix of facilities for our residents.”

The council did not make any further comment when approached by The National.