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New arena will be ‘huge for Worcester’
FIRST GLIMPSE: Mick Donovan, head of the University of Worcester’s institute of sports and exercise science, is among the party taking a first look inside the £15million Worcester Arena.
THESE are the first pictures of what the eagerly-anticipated Worcester Arena will look like.
An impressive structure, this vast expanse will soon be playing host to some of the leading athletes in the country.
It might not have come cheap at £15million, £2m of which is for the bespoke sprung floor alone, but this venue will surely catapult Worcester into the sporting stratosphere.
Although it has been funded predominantly by the University of Worcester, it will be something the whole city can be proud of.
According to Mick Donovan, head of the university’s institute of sports and exercise science, there will be few facilities to rival it in the country.
He said: “In terms of performance it’s going to give us a chance to stage some of the best indoor sporting events in the country.
“In terms of participation for people of all ages, they are going to have somewhere to come and play sport.
“I think the fact that we’ve got an indoor space that can house 2,000 people to watch an event is huge for Worcester.
“We’ve got a rugby club, cricket club and the football club are going well this year but to have one of the best indoor sports facilities in the country in Worcester is absolutely fantastic.
“What a great draw to get people into the city.”
He added: “One of the key things is the floor.
“A lot of indoor facilities have got concrete floors and anyone who plays any indoor sport knows it’s injury prone.
“They will slip and jar knees when they play and it’s shortening the life of the sportsperson.
“Now we’ve got the type of floor that the elite athletes around the world are playing on. We’ve gone for the very best quality to make sure the athletes are safe and that they’ll want to come here to take part.”
The main hall will house three basketball courts, which can also double as 12 badminton courts or netball arenas.
Tiered seating folds down from either end to create space for 1,500 spectators, while there are another 500 chairs that can be moved in to create numerous seating set-ups.
Upstairs, there is space for three separate conference rooms, a media room designed to host broadcasters such as Sky Sports and a balcony overlooking the main floor.
Outside, a veranda provides views of the River Severn, while alongside the main entrance and box office is a strength and conditioning suite for athletes.
Everything has also been built with the key element of accessibility for the disabled. The walkways and lifts are designed for wheelchairs, as are the changing rooms.
Donovan said: “There is room for wheelchair users to actually go in and feel at home within a sport and not feel like they’re having to make do with the facilities.
“The arena has been built for them to perform and participate at all levels.”
Coupled with the Riverside Centre next door, which incorporates state-of-the-art computer suites for performance analysis, it is also another huge feather in the cap for the university, not to mention a selling point.
“It’s a really positive vision,” Donovan added.
“We can attract spectators to watch top-class sport, athletes of all levels to either participate or improve and get better and if you’re a student, what a fantastic place to come and get a degree.
“The big thing about our degree programmes is that elements of it are engaging with people in sport so the city has benefitted hugely from that.
“With the current facilities that we’ve got we host Sunday league football, Central Venue basketball and gymnastics.
“But now we’ve got a bigger venue where people can come in and get the benefit of having a fantastic facility but working with the students who are really well qualified.
“There are over 1,200 students who can support people at elite or beginner level.
“We’re attracting more people to the city who can then work with our clubs and our athletes in all sports.”