SIR CHRIS Hoy has given his formal backing to Edinburgh’s bid to bring the new National Performance Centre for Sport to the Scottish capital.
The cycling champion pledged his support for Go Edinburgh 2016 – a campaign to bring the new £25million facility to Heriot-Watt University.
The 37-year-old six-time Olympic gold medallist described the arena - which includes a Hampden-sized football pitch - as the “natural home” of the venue.
Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh City Council are competing together against what is expected to be a strong joint bid from Stirling University and Stirling Council and a third from Dundee City Council, with a decision expected by late summer.
Full details and images of the three facilities will be revealed when the final bids are in next month.
“Edinburgh would be a fantastic and natural home for the National Performance Centre for Sport as both Heriot-Watt University and the city generally have a great track record of nurturing and developing new talent”, said Sir Chris.
“This investment by the Scottish Government will create fantastic opportunities for community sport and performance athletes. I know I couldn’t have achieved my goals without the right facilities and support, and these will be essential for our future generations if we’re to help them achieve our country’s sporting ambitions.
“That’s what the bid by my home city aims to provide for a variety of sports, building on the excellent centre that already exists at Heriot-Watt. The gold medal and cup winners of tomorrow need our help. That’s why I’m getting right behind the ‘Go Edinburgh’ campaign and I urge everyone to join me.”
The facility is intended to provide Scotland’s top sports men and women with the facilities, programmes and services that will enable them to excel on the international stage.
Edinburgh - whose bid would see the site based at Riccarton on the edge of the capital, close to the Heart of Midlothian training ground - has already said it will add £5m to the £25m grant to pay for further facilities, and key to its pitch is the proximity to Edinburgh Airport.
Three floodlit outdoor football pitches and a 19-court sports hall are all part of stadium plans.
A full-sized indoor synthetic football pitch with seating for 1,000 spectators, badminton courts with 500 seats, fitness suites, hydrotherapy pools and athlete accommodation are also included.
Thirteen sports would be catered for at the centre, including football, rugby, cricket, volleyball, equestrian, basketball and tennis.
Heriot-Watt University said its bid provided an easily accessible site with good transport links to the rest of the country and the UK. The university has a sports science programme and close links to community clubs, as well as a number of national organisations including Scottish Squash and Racketball.
Richard Lewis, the city’s culture and sport leader, said: “Sir Chris’s backing means a huge amount for our campaign. He has shown throughout his career what fantastic sporting talent Edinburgh, and Scotland, has to offer and what this country’s athletes can achieve. I hope everyone will follow his lead and pledge their support for Edinburgh’s bid for the National Performance Centre for Sport.”
Professor Steve Chapman, Principal of Heriot-Watt University, said, “We are delighted to have Sir Chris’ backing for our bid, and I know it will be a big boost for the whole team working on the campaign.
“Our desire is to create a world class sporting facility that will have a positive impact on the preparation of our athletes, readying them to compete successfully on the world stage, and possibly, who knows, helping the next Sir Chris Hoy to reach the top in his or her chosen sporting field.”
Dundee’s bid also includes a nearby hotel to cater for the venue, and has been backed by neighbouring councils in Angus and Perth and Kinross.
Stirling is already home to four national training centres in swimming, triathlon, tennis and women’s football, and is the training venue of choice for other sporting disciplines and the base for the sportscotland institute of sport.