WORK to build a state-of-the-art £15 million sports arena in Worcester will begin in January.

The University of Worcester today announced that contractors Willmot Dixon will start building the 2,000-seater arena in Hylton Road next month and should be finished by January 2013.

Construction of the 5,300 sq m arena, on the site of the former fruit market, will provide more than 250 jobs.

The university says a multi-million pound turnover once the venue is open will create dozens more full and part-time roles.

The Worcester Arena will be a national centre of excellence for disabled sport, serving both the city and the wider region.

Professor David Green, vice-chancellor and chief executive of the university, said: “It will provide outstanding new opportunities to engage in sport. Inclusive by design, it will become ‘home from home’ for many athletes with a mobility impairment, as well as our much-acclaimed and long-standiong Learning Through Sport programme for children.”

Mick Donovan, head of the university’s institute of sport and exercise, said it would also be a first-class venue for able-bodied athletes.

He said: “It will be capable of hosting major international tournaments, specialist training sessions and community events and will become the new home of the Worcester Wolves basketball team.”

The project is backed by £1.5 million from Sport England’s Iconic Facilities Olympic legacy fund after being selected as one of just six successful projects out of 172 applications.

It has also received £250,000 from the trustees of the Foundation for Sports and Arts, £375,000 from England Basketball, £200,000 from England Badminton and £25,000 from Herefordshire businessman Clive Richards.

More than £70,000 has been received in donations and fund-raising is continuing.