Organisers of Edinburgh’s successful bid to host the new National Performance Centre for Sport today said community groups would benefit from the move as well as elite competitors.
The decision to site the £30 million sports village at Heriot-Watt University’s Riccarton campus has been hailed as a boost for sport in the Capital. Edinburgh beat off competition from Dundee and Stirling to secure the centre.
The development, due to open in 2016, will include an indoor replica Hampden football pitch, three outdoor tennis courts, and a nine-court sports hall.
Catriona McAllister, Heriot-Watt’s head of sport and exercise, said community clubs would have access to the world-class facilities and members of the public would be able to become members at the centre’s 100-station gym.
She said while the emphasis was on performance sport, community involvement had been a key part of the bid.
“We’re looking at things like after-school activities, Friday night leagues and weekend leagues for the community to get involved.”
She said there would be coach development and youth development schemes.
And she predicted a knock-on effect from elite clubs which use centres such as Meadowbank or Drumbrae switching to Riccartion and freeing up space at these other venues. Lothian Green MSP and former athlete Alison Johnstone said she hoped the new centre could be a catalyst for nurturing local talent.
She said: “The rival bids from Dundee and Stirling had much to commend them but I always believed Edinburgh had the edge.
“I’ve been involved in sport in Edinburgh all my life and I see the performance centre as an opportunity to support our grassroots.
“The new centre will make it easier for Scotland’s potential sporting stars to access high performance facilities and coaching.”
Edinburgh Pentlands SNP MSP Gordon Macdonald said the decision to locate the centre at Riccarton was excellent news for the local community, Edinburgh and Scotland.
“Having this facility on the doorstep will encourage our athletes towards achieving the highest standards of performance on the international stage.”
Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack welcomed the opportunities the centre would offer local people to become involved in sport.
She said: “We need to capitalise on the huge interest generated by the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.” Independent Lothian MSP Margo MacDonald, convener of Holyrood’s cross-party group on sport, said: “This is exactly what the Capital needs.”
Welsh 40 years ahead of scots
WALES has had a national sports centre for the past four decades.
Based in the centre of Cardiff, but surrounded by parkland, its extensive indoor and outdoor facilities are used by more than 30 sports. It regularly hosts international competitions, training camps and coach education, but is also open for community use.
It was opened in 1971 as the National Sports Centre for Wales, renamed the Welsh Institute of Sport in 1994 and has has been known as the Sport Wales National Centre since 2010.