Newcastle Eagles are finally to break ground on their new arena after almost a year of delays.

Work on the venue, held up by a taxing requirement to move a large amount of soil from the Tyneside site to a suitable alternative, has begun to build a new 2,800-seater community sports arena owned and operated by the BBL leaders’ Community Foundation and based at Riverside Dene in Elswick.

As well as allowing the club to enter European competition, it is anticipated that more than 11,000 people will be engaged in sport during the facility’s first year. And more than 1,000 disabled users will be encouraged to play sport annually at the arena – reflecting the ECF’s commitment to deliver recreation and education opportunities to the wider community in partnership between ECF and Newcastle City Council, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Sport England and Newcastle College.

“This has been several years in the planning but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” revealed Eagles’ Managing Director Paul Blake, who celebrated 20 years with the club earlier this year.

“We have been immersed in this project day and night for as long as I can remember and to reach the point where we can begin work on our new home is incredibly exciting.

“Of course it marks the beginning of a brand new era for Newcastle Eagles and Eagles Community Foundation and I know that everyone at the Eagles shares my keen sense of anticipation.

“From day one the construction of the Eagles Community Arena (ECA) was also about delivering a facility that welcomes people of all ages and abilities and encourages healthy living and wellbeing through sport. “That’s what we will have and I’d like to place on record my huge thanks to our partners at Newcastle City Council, NELEP, Sport England and Newcastle College. “This is a significant day in the development of sport in the city and region, something we should celebrate.”

The ECA will be open for 362 days a year and stage up to 40 events annually – including a minimum of 22 Eagles’ fixtures. The venue will be open from 8am-11pm daily and embrace a wide range of sports clubs, organisations, age groups and abilities – becoming a focal point for leisure and recreation in the West End of Newcastle.

Cllr Joyce McCarty, Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council said: “This new sport arena will provide a bespoke dedicated home for the Eagles, along with much needed community leisure facilities in Newcastle’s West End.

“We are delighted to be working with the Eagles Community Foundation to extend their community outreach activities. Our commitment is to increase participation in sport which we know has lasting health and wellbeing benefits and helps bring communities together.”

Photo: Eagles

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