Cambridge University will finally get a sports centre, The Cambridge Student can exclusively reveal.
Earlier this term, Cambridge University Sports Syndicate, the body which oversees sports funding, secured £16m to build a centre, which will include a fitness suite, a large central sports hall for basketball, badminton, volleyball and a range of other sports, together with multi-purpose rooms for fitness classes and sports such as martial arts and fencing. The plans also include room for a number of squash and Eton fives courts, which will be fully completed when further money is available.
The University is providing a loan of £10m to the Sports Syndicate, the body responsible for building the centre. A further £5m is to be raised by donations to the University Development Office, and £1m is to be generated by the sale of Fenners Building which houses the offices of the PE Department and University gym. Fenners, off Gresham Road will stay open until the new building is completed.
The funding decision comes after decades of campaigning the Hawks and Ospreys sports societies, CUSU, and the Sports Syndicate itself. TCS reported in Michaelmas term 2009 that every indoor sports team, with the exception of the Real Tennis Club, currently has to hire venues throughout the year and the need for a central sports site was first highlighted in the 1892 Cambridge Review over a century ago.
Debbie Lowther, Chair of the Sports Syndicate, said she was “absolutely delighted to see the plans now coming to fruition,” adding “this is an ambitious project and the financial commitment could not be undertaken lightly, so it has taken some time for the University to satisfy itself that the centre would meet the needs of the University community and provide value for money.”
Anthony Lemons, Director of Sport, said: “I am delighted that after so many years this project has finally secured funding and will be going ahead, and I hope it will be a great benefit to students.”
University sports clubs also enthusiastically greeted the news. Judo Club President Rob Blackburn said “having a university sports hall large enough to hold our varsity match, and available to hire, would be very useful.”
The exact method by which the University’s loan will be repaid has yet to be decided. Colleges – which currently pay £4 to the Sports Syndicate for every student member – are likely to be called upon to make an increased contribution, and the centre will also be hired out for corporate events. Students using the facilities will be charged a nominal fee.
The syndicate hopes building work will be completed by Michaelmas 2013, and there are plans to raise further money in future years for a 50m pool and indoor tennis courts. The centre will be situated next to the Wilberforce Road Athletics track, near current outdoor facilities.
James Burton – News Editor
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