One of Britain’s greatest Olympians is supporting Edinburgh’s bid to develop the country’s National Performance Centre for Sport.
Five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave – an honorary graduate from Heriot-Watt University – has given the bid, centred around the institution’s Riccarton campus in the city’s south-west, a boost with his distinguished backing.
The Capital is vying with Dundee and Stirling to win the rights to host the £25 million arena.
Olympic rower Redgrave, said of his former university: “It is a world-class institution which has already done so much to support community and performance sport. I believe Heriot-Watt and the City of Edinburgh Council are uniquely placed to host the National Performance Centre for Sport.
“The Edinburgh bid offers the promise of a fantastic legacy, both for communities in and around the city as well as developing the talent of elite sports men and women of future generations.”
Redgrave joins fellow sporting luminaries including cycling champion Sir Chris Hoy and former Scotland rugby captain Gavin Hastings in agreeing to become campaign ambassadors.
He was awarded a doctorate of the university in 2001 to recognise his outstanding contribution to rowing and “immense courage” in overcoming serious illnesses to achieve “unprecedented” Olympic glory.
Edinburgh Airport and Lothian Buses are among major companies also supporting the city’s bid.
Plans for what facilities would be provided at Edinburgh’s stadium and images of the centre’s design will be released following this afternoon’s board meeting with university officials.
Bid guidelines state that three floodlit outdoor football pitches, including a natural grass Hampden-sized pitch, and a 19-court sports hall must be included in arena plans.
But other options remain open to the individual bidders to decide, with a major hotel, conference suites and tennis courts all a potential proposition for Edinburgh.
The details have remained shrouded in secrecy despite the bid being submitted last month, with university chiefs refusing to reveal specific plans.
The council has already committed to stumping up an extra £5 million for the local bid.
The cash is expected to be spent on those “desirable” facilities like a hotel, beach volleyball courts and grass rugby pitches that could swing the vote in Edinburgh’s favour. Football, rugby, cricket, tennis and equestrian would be among 13 sports catered for at the centre.