Work is well under way on the most significant sports facility development in the University's 800-year history. On May 1, construction began on the Cambridge Sports Centre – a world-class facility for recreation, training and competition. When it opens next year, it will bring hundreds of athletes and spectators, across dozens of sports and activities, together under one roof.
Why does it matter?
Kyle Coveny, the University’s associate director for sports development, is clear. “The Sports Centre will transform sport at Cambridge,” he says. “Crucially, it will be the only indoor sports facility accessible by the entire University community: undergraduates, graduates, post-docs, academics, staff and their families.”
Kyle admits that during his own time at the University, he would have been glad to have such a resource available. As a former vice-president of Cambridge University Boat Club, he made much use of the Fitness Centre at Fenner’s. “When it was opened in 1951, it served well the mostly field-based sports practised at the University and Colleges,” he says. “But over the years, needs have changed and Cambridge has grown significantly. To keep pace with this, we now need to invest in facility provision in a big way.”
Housed in an architecturally outstanding building “The Sydney Opera House of sports,” the £20million Centre’s design has at its heart a vast hall suitable for basketball, volleyball, badminton and many other disciplines, along with seating for 500 spectators. Multi-purpose rooms will cater for such activities as yoga, dance and aerobics, martial arts, table tennis and fencing.
There will also be a spacious fitness suite with top-of-the-range cardio equipment, a strength and conditioning wing, sports medicine and rehabilitation facilities, five squash courts, six fives courts and a lounge, a cafe, offices and locker space.
Building for the future
The Centre is certain to build on the tremendous success of Cambridge sportspeople on the international stage, including every Olympic Games since 1896. It will have a tremendous impact on those looking to pursue sport at the highest levels. But importantly, the facilities give an opportunity for everyone to participate, from beginners to the international elite.
What’s more, the Sports Centre represents only the first part of a three-phase programme. In the coming years, it will be joined by indoor and outdoor tennis courts and a swimming pool on the same site.
The role of philanthropy
The University has allocated £10million from central funds towards the development of the Sports Centre. Philanthropic partnerships will cover the remaining costs – and far-sighted benefactors are being sought to play their part in securing Cambridge’s sporting future.
“We’re looking to work in partnership with our alumni and friends,” Kyle says. “They’ll have the opportunity to make a direct, profound and lasting impact on sporting life – promoting excellence at Cambridge and enhancing its offering for generations to come.”