In the second part of The Saint’s exploration of the plans for the redevelopment of the Sports Centre, we look at what’s in store for students beyond this first phase of the refurbishment.
As explained in these pages recently, the current construction work is set to be completed by January 2015, when the second semester of the next academic year begins. This stage of the work will see St Leonard’s road widened to allow two-way access for cars, a new car park installed to create greater capacity, a complete revamp of the reception area, and the building of a new sports hall and outdoor changing rooms. The Sports Hall will also extend up to the current 3G football pitch, thus significantly increasing the size of the Sports Centre as a whole.
After the completion of this phase of work – assuming the University Court allow more work to go ahead and provide a new budget separate to the five million pounds allocated to this year’s work – the contents of the current centre shall be improved and increased in number. The Strength and Conditioning room and fitness suite are both set to be expanded in order to try and deal with the regular overcrowding that affects both exercise areas. Further, the multitude of doors and corridors are to be demolished in a bid to create a more spacious area in which people can work out. The doors and corridors are seen by the Sports Centre as, frankly, an unnecessary waste of space, and the hope is that by expanding organically – as opposed to constructing a new building from scratch – the operation will be both far cheaper and far quicker. Especially vital in this whole redevelopment in the speed with which it is to be carried out; the Athletic Union are trying to limit as far as possible the damage to the student sporting experience.
As with the current project, the changes to the fitness suite and strength and conditioning rooms are set to take around a year as well, and after that will be implemented the final, headline-making phase of the redevelopment. From Christmas 2017 to January of the following year the Athletic Union will build a brand new eight-court sports hall where they hope to start hosting several major indoor sporting events. In the current sports hall, room for spectators is very limited and the plan hence comprises the installation of a retractable 400-seater stand which will be used by spectators. At this moment in time numbers are limited to around 40 or 50, and that itself is at a squeeze.
Overall, then, the complete redevelopment of the Sports Centre is set to take around three years and completed by January 2018, meaning that of current students, it is only first years students who will reap the full benefits of the changes. The costs are still unknown as each separate project requires its own approval from the University Court, along with the allocation of individual project budgets. However, with this year’s project costing around the five million pounds mark, it is safe to say the redevelopment as a whole will reach into tens of millions of pounds. Expensive, perhaps, but sufficiently long-termist for the benefits to eventually far outweigh the initial costs. Benefits which, it can hardly be denied, will bring to bear on every single student at the University, and the town of St Andrews as a whole.