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‘The Beach’: Keeping Winnipeg Warm Through The Deep Freeze

February 14, 2019
A couple days of a -50°C wind chill is enough to freeze any memory of summer. Tropical vacations to escape the bitter cold can be expensive, but luckily for frozen Winnipeggers, there’s a beach right in our own backyard.

The Beach Volleyball Centre officially opened its doors in April 2018. As of late it has been serving as a toasty warm getaway from the frigid weather but what people may not realize, is that this newly opened facility was nearly 20 years in the making before it became a reality. 

Kelly Crerar is co-owner of The Beach Volleyball Centre, and first laid eyes on the sandy sport in 1999 while working at the Pan American Games.

“It was the most successful sport at the Pan Am Games, everyone just loved watching it, it was a very unique visual experience,” Crerar recalls. “And at the time I thought, ‘Wow, we sure need something like that in Winnipeg,’ but, of course, indoors, because we have nine months of winter.”

He began drawing up plans for the facility shortly after, but ended up having to shelf them in 2000 when he moved to Chicago for work. When he returned to Winnipeg in 2007, he was surprised – and pleased – to find that still no one had opened the indoor beach facility that he knew would have appeal in the snowy city.

His first task was to find a suitable building, and, naturally, he started by looking at similar facilities in other cities within Canada.

“There’s one in Toronto – North Beach – that we kind of looked at. We traveled to all of them,” Crerar says. “All of them were retro-fitted existing buildings to serve their purpose. We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to build a world-class facility that was specifically built for this purpose.”

Which is exactly what he did, and with his partners – Daryl Didyk and Bill King – opened The Beach Volleyball Centre in 2018.

“We focused on co-ed, and we focused on fun, recreation,” Crerar says. “So the volleyball part is just one aspect of the entertainment side of it. You’ve also got corporate parties, birthday parties, we’ve got Spikeball leagues, we’re going to be doing dodgeball leagues; we’ve got a whole ton of other things you can use the sand for, and volleyball becomes just one of the five or six things that we do on a daily basis.”

Indeed, the facility is effectively a multi-purpose events centre able to accommodate a wide variety of occasions, complete with a full kitchen and bar (‘The Sandbar,’ of course).

Naturally, they also offer beach volleyball programming and training, staffing former pro players to teach everything from bumping and spiking to strategy and execution, and host multiple leagues and tournaments for all ages and skill levels.

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce was proud to recognize The Beach Volleyball Centre as one of this year’s Spirit of Winnipeg Awards finalists, in the ‘Rising Star’ category. And “rising” is exactly what Crerar has in mind for the facility.

“I think we’re just at the beginning of figuring out, ‘What are we going to be when we grow up?’”

  • To learn more about The Beach Volleyball Centre, you can visit their website by clicking here.
  • If you’re interested in visiting The Beach Volleyball Centre, The Chamber will be hosting its Small Business Forum at the facility on June 6. It is free to attend and registration is now, click here for more information.