The £12m Essex Sport Arena has now been opened and if early interest is anything to go by, it is going to prove a huge success.
A permanent home for the National League’s Essex Blades sides, both the WNBL Division One leaders as well the NBL Division Three Men’s side, the arena is providing the programme with an elite facility as they continue to go from strength to strength.
Performance Head Coach Mark Lloyd said, “The new facility is simply incredible - not only from the obvious playing court environment but the state of the art sports science aspects as well. A full medical centre for sports therapy and physiotherapy adjacent to the court means absolute 'on hand support' for our student athletes. Highly sophisticated performance analysis equipment allows us to further enhance the learning of our teams and even the 'Time Out Bar' and additional hosting areas are allowing us to develop the corporate side to the operation.”
Housing the newly-formed School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences with the goal of training the next generation of sport scientists, sport coaches, therapists and physios, the arena has the potential to improve the sport for clubs, players and staff off the court as well as on it.
For spectators, the arena can seat 1,655 fans as an international standard sport facility that is also capable of staging televised sporting events. “As the match day promotion and marketing machine gets fully under way we anticipate attracting a crowd base to match anyone in the National League,” commented Lloyd. “The arena will also be a focus point for the East of England and I believe will be instrumental to supporting the growth of the game in the region.”
Basketball England was able to provide frequent analysis and technical advice on the design and equipment provision for the venue. Peter Griffiths, Basketball England’s Senior Delivery Manager – Infrastructure worked closely with the University’s Director of Sport Dave Parry and is delighted that the venue is now open to the public, “It’s great to see another top quality basketball facility built, and one which will benefit the Blades, local clubs and the wider community in Essex. We are pleased to have been able to help ensure that the arena provides a suitable environment for elite basketball training and games, as well as BUCS, National League and informal competition.”