With curling center legal battle over, couple eyes Central Texas venue

FILE - Sweepers move a stone across the ice at the Madison Curling Club, February 24, 2005 in McFarland, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
FILE - Sweepers move a stone across the ice at the Madison Curling Club, February 24, 2005 in McFarland, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

SUNSET VALLEY, Texas (KXAN) — The couple seeking to build an Olympic-caliber curling center in Sunset Valley has ended their legal battle against the city and is now looking for a spot elsewhere in Central Texas to build the sports venue.

The hopeful creators of the Austin Curling Center, Anita and Dennis Dunn, said they are still determined to develop the venue in Central Texas. Both lawsuits the couple was involved in – one as plaintiffs against Sunset Valley and one as defendants sued by the city – related to their property and development have been settled and dismissed, according to both sides.

The Dunns have reached out to Austin City Council Member Ellen Troxclair to see if Austin would be receptive to a sports venue that could hold Olympic qualifying events. The Dunns also said Round Rock has a sports-friendly atmosphere that could work for the curling center.

“We are totally pursuing the Austin Curling Center. We haven’t given up on that,” Anita said. “We’ve been Austinites for 20 years, and we love Austin. So yeah, we’re gonna stick around and just see where we can manage to fit in somewhere around this area.”

A 'Keep Curling Weird' banner hangs at The Barn food truck park and bar that currently sits on the property. The Dunns purchased it with the intent to build an Olympic quality curling center. (KXAN Photo/Richard Bowes)
A ‘Keep Curling Weird’ banner hangs at The Barn food truck park and bar that currently sits on the property. The Dunns purchased it with the intent to build an Olympic quality curling center. (KXAN Photo/Richard Bowes)

And, despite the protracted legal tussle that just ended, Anita Dunn said she would even reconsider locating in Sunset Valley.

“There’s a lot of misunderstandings — a lot of bad feelings that went on the last few years. But, you know, we can put all that away and if we look at what’s best for the city and what’s best for the area and the local economy, I think we can all benefit from this,” said Anita. “If Sunset Valley’s willing to work with us and put all the hard feelings aside, we’re more than happy to talk to them.”

“All this put aside, it’d be great if we can put it in the Sunset Valley area. If not, we’re looking for anywhere else that’s open for opportunities to bring a new sport to Central Texas,” added Dennis.

While the lawsuits were playing out, the Dunns opened a bar on the Sunset Valley land they bought for the curling center. The bar, called The Barn, is currently open for business.

Mayor Rose Cardona called the conclusion of the lawsuits a “relief.”

“I’m happy that everything got settled,” Cardona said. “We’ve been wanting to get rid of it because it’s uncomfortable for everybody.”

Sunset Valley permitting tussle

Anita Dunn said she first floated the concept of a Curling Center in Sunset Valley to city leaders in 2010. City officials initially told the Dunns they were interested in the venue, but that changed after the couple bought a property to develop, said the Dunns in a lawsuit they filed in 2015.

Sunset Valley is an incorporated town inside Austin with about 800 residents and a $5 million budget. The city is tucked into the southeast corner of the intersection of South MoPac Expressway and US 290.

Sunset Valley officials and the Dunns struggled to come to terms over the amount of impervious cover that would be allowed for the curling facility and a parking lot. The Dunns ultimately sued the city, and the city sued them.

With the lawsuits behind them, the Dunns are looking forward to getting a venue started. Dennis Dunn said the future venue could hold qualifying events for the Olympics.

“We would like to have it open before” the next winter games in 2022, Dennis said. “Two years is certainly a viable option. I think we have the money to build it now.”

For more information about the Austin Curling Center, click here.

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