Scotland’s new National Performance Centre for Sport will help attract major competitions to Edinburgh and assist the elite athletes of the future, the
winning bidders have said.
Edinburgh will host the new £30 million facility after beating off competition from Dundee and Stirling.
Dramatic new designs reveal a huge indoor football pitch at the heart of the site, close to the Riccarton campus at Heriot Watt University. Large glass plates allow for natural light while keeping the Hampden-sized field from the elements. The centre will also support high performance rugby, volleyball, athletics, badminton, basketball, cricket, fencing, handball, hockey, netball, shinty and squash.
It is scheduled to open in 2016 and there is room for further expansion at the site if needed. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon approved the recommendation from a steering group which was chaired by Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan.
The aim of the centre is to support elite athletes and their development in Scotland, although the university and Edinburgh City Council, which supported the bid, intend it to be widely used by the local community.
The Scottish international football and rugby teams will prepare for matches at the national centre which has been backed by Sir Chris Hoy, Gavin Hastings, Sir Steve Redgrave and the runner, Freya Murray.
Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s culture and sports leader, said that the new facility, to be funded largely by the Scottish Government, was a welcome
addition at a time when local
authorities were seeing shrinking budgets.
He told The Scotsman: “In a time in which budgets are declining, this is a great chunk of capital investment for the city. It is also important that there is a mix, meaning that it will be used for elite sports, communities and students.
“The fact we will have community groups training alongside professional sportsmen and women is hugely significant and will no doubt be a source of inspiration for young athletes and players.”
He added that the facility’s location on the western edge of the capital would allow easy access from towns along the central belt, and for teams arriving at nearby Edinburgh Airport.
Scottish architects Reiach and Hall said the centre’s roof was inspired by the angle and trajectory of what is recognised as one of the greatest goals in football history: Brazilian Roberto Carlos’ strike against France in 1997.
Cllr Lewis added: “The design of the building itself is very impressive and we are sure in the future will come to be instantly recognisable. I should like to add that the women’s SFA have said how excited they are that their team – the 11th best in the world, and doing a lot better than their male counterparts – are looking forward to playing in these top facilities.”
Ms Sturgeon said the centre would be “the jewel in the crown for Scottish sport and help turn dreams into reality. It will be the best place for our elite athletes to mentally and physically prepare to compete on the world stage, helping more Scots win, more often.”
Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland, said the announcement was “a very significant day for sport in Scotland as the National Performance Centre for Sport is a tremendous addition to Scotland’s sporting facilities”. He added that it would “complement the terrific facilities we already have in Scotland, and assist our high performance athletes in honing their skills and delivering on the world stage.”