NWDA grant final funding to build Sportcity BMX arena

Michael Hunt

The final £8m needed to build the indoor BMX arena at Sportcity in east Manchester has been invested by the North West Development Agency.

Manchester City Council granted £8.55m in July this year and Sport England granted £3m, which left an £8m shortfall. Planning permission was given in September.

The indoor BMX arena will be the first covered venue in the UK and is expected to attract over 120,000 users every year. It will host a range of local, national and international events.

Designed by Ellis Williams Architects, the 110, 000 sq ft building will, with the existing Manchester Velodrome form the National Cycling Centre, the new home to the triumphant Olympic Team GB cyclists. It will also include offices for the headquarters of the British Cycling Federation.

Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the NWDA, said: "The indoor BMX arena will bring yet another world class sporting venue to east Manchester which will create new job opportunities for local residents and enhance Sportcity's reputation as an international destination for sports events.

"The opportunity to invest in the BMX arena and to further invest in Sportcity will take the combined facilities to a new level, setting the standards for sport locations to a level unmatched anywhere in Europe."

A full planning application was submitted for the building in August, following some slight changes to the original plans.

The size of the building had been reduced from 150,000 sq ft and seating capacity from 4,500 to 2,000. Sports courts originally planned to go in the middle of the 70x100m track have been removed.

British Cycling currently employs 100 training and management positions based in Manchester, and the introduction of the BMX facilities is expected to safeguard over 140 jobs.

As part of its planned expansion, British Cycling will also be creating over 50 new jobs to be accommodated within the BMX arena, alongside the creation of twelve jobs associated with the building's operation.

With over 200 employees after its planned expansion, NWDA said this will make British Cycling one of the largest employers in east Manchester.

Ian Drake, chief executive of British Cycling, said: "We are delighted that all funding has now been approved for this tremendous project. The National Indoor BMX Centre will be a fantastic venue for the GB Cycling Team and will aid our preparations for London 2012. As a community facility, it will also offer local youngsters a rare opportunity to train alongside British BMX stars, inspiring future generations of riders and growing the discipline at grass roots. In addition, the purpose built office in the middle of the two facilities will provide plenty of space to accommodate our growing team and allow the GB Cycling Team to optimise the space within the Velodrome for elite performance."

The new BMX arena is expected to attract over 20,000 spectators from the UK and further afield every year, on top of an estimated 120,000 users of the facilities each year.

It is anticipated it will host 10-12 events every year. The events programme is proposed to include high profile events such as the UCI Supercross BMX World Cup, the UEC European Championships Rounds and the BC National BMX Championships.

Construction work is due to begin in January 2010 on a 15-month build.

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