Canadian curling clubs, including several in Nova Scotia, say they will fight a decision by the parent companies of Sportsnet and TSN to charge thousands of dollars a year for their channels to be broadcast in curling club lounges.
"Some of our clubs have already received notices and others will be receiving them," said Harry Daemen, the president of the Nova Scotia Curling Association. "Some of them have already received quotes where it will increase $200 a month."
Daemen said other larger curling clubs would have to pay an even bigger increase.
The increases range from club to club based on seating capacity in lounge areas and the kind of liquor licence available.
'We just can't afford it'
But even small clubs would have to pay a big increase.
"As a small club we are trying our best just to keep the doors open, so we just can't afford it," said Ian Reesor, past president of the Middleton Curling Club. "I think it's a disgrace. I hope they lose a lot of business because of this, I really do."
Reesor said the Middleton club won't be offering the channels next curling season.
Among the 33 clubs in the Nova Scotia Curling Association, the Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax is one of the biggest. The proposed changes would see its bill increase by $300 a month, bringing the total annual bill to $5,000.
"Most curling clubs are run on volunteer help and to take a hit like that, we just can't afford it," said Graham Harris, the club's past president. "It seems like a cash grab for sure."
Curling Canada is protesting the decision through a social media campaign.
Curlers are being asked to contact federal Sport Minister Carla Qualtrough, Sportsnet owner Rogers and TSN majority owner Bell Media to tell them curling club lounges are different than profit-driven sports bars.
Not a sports bar
"People go to the curling lounge after a game to share a friendly drink where the winners will buy for the losers and a television will be there with a curling game on," said Daemen, a member of the Highlander Curling Club in St. Andrews, Antigonish County. "It's clearly a different venue than a sports bar but we are now being treated as equals."
Daemen said most curling clubs are operated by volunteers with razor-thin budgets. Increases like this one will have a big impact on their finances.
Harris said they have cancelled their cable sports package at the Mayflower club due to the new added cost. The club will likely reactivate it when big curling events such as the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and the Tim Hortons Brier are taking place.