Willmott Dixon has started on site at the new recreation centre which will link with Oldham College and Oldham Sixth Form College.
The facility at the junction of Manchester Street and St Domingo Street will have the specification to attract regional sporting competitions and televised events. There will be a 25-metre eight-lane swimming pool of county-level competition standard, a 250-spectator seating gallery with 150 competitor seats at pool side, an eight-court sports hall including flexible seating for 500 people, four fitness studios, and a four-rink indoor bowls hall. Building work will provide improved landscaping, public realm works and a 122-space car park.
GT Architects designed the scheme.
Completion is due in autumn 2015. The current Oldham Sports Centre in Lord Street will not close until the new facility is complete to ensure there is no break in service.
Cllr Jim McMahon, leader of Oldham Council, said: "It's exciting to see the diggers on the site today after all the detailed planning and preparation. Local people have been waiting a long time for new facilities in Oldham and residents are beginning to see a number of ambitious developments taking shape, like the cinema-led complex at the Old Town Hall."
Anthony Dillon, managing director of Willmott Dixon, said: "As a local business we are very pleased to be working with Oldham Council to deliver what will be a fantastic facility and significantly contribute towards the ongoing regeneration of the town centre.
"As with the other projects we have delivered in Oldham we will be working closely with the council to ensure we maximise the local economic benefit in terms of local labour, subcontractors and suppliers."
Earlier this year Oldham Council announced proposals for a £8m Royton leisure facility which will be located on Byron Street. Work is set to begin on this facility later this year.