Edinburgh push for £25m sport performance centre

EDINBURGH is planning to stump up extra cash in an attempt to bring the new National Performance Centre for Sport to the Scottish capital.

Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh City Council are bidding against both Dundee and Stirling for the Scottish Government-funded £25m arena.

The advanced facility must include an outdoor “natural grass ‘Hampden’ sized pitch for football”, according to the guidelines.

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It will also feature along with a full-sized indoor synthetic football pitch with seating for 1,000 spectators, badminton courts with 500 seats, along with a beach volleyball court.

The Scotsman has learned that the Edinburgh bidders are willing to offer an extra £5m to invest in the stadium, bringing the total to £30m.

If the city is announced as the winners this summer the facility would be based near to the Hearts training ground on the Riccarton university campus in the south-west.

Andrew Burns, leader of the council, said that a win would ensure that the east coast could match the kind of facilities Glasgow is investing in for the Commonwealth Games next year.

He said: “Glasgow has stolen the march for all the right reasons, in terms of investment in sporting infrastructure, and we’re keen to try and keep that balance coming back this way to the east coast.

“There is a £25m potential infrastructure project for whoever wins this. Our bid is actually £30m because Heriot-Watt are putting in a considerable amount of effort in finance to it.

“Heriot-Watt has got the space, and it has all the required planning ability to get on and do this.

“It’s a massive indoor football pitch. The height is only just under the size restrictions for such a proximity to the airport.

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“It’s a great location, and we’re going to do everything we possibly can to - in the most constructiove sense possible - defeat Dundee and Stirling and bring this to Edinburgh.”

Winner announcement

The three cities are now finalising the Stage Two bid, with the winners to be announced later this year.

Stirling University and Stirling Council are together offering a rival bid, as is Dundee City Council.

The shortlist announcement last week means that Perth and Kinross Council, St Andrews University and Midlothian Council were unsuccessful with their bids to host the centre.

Heriot-Watt said its proposed location, five minutes from Edinburgh Airport, is expected to be a key driver in the bid, as is the proximity to its existing sports facilities, such as the national squash centre.

Professor Steve Chapman, principal of Heriot-Watt University, added: “The transport facilities here are the best of any bid - we have park and ride, an airport within 5 mins, and we’re right next to motorway.

“We also have 380 acres of beautiful parkland, which is very secure for the elite sportsmen and women competing here.

“If we want Scotland to performance in football and other sports we have to meet these needs first and Heriot-Watt is very enthusiastic about winning this.

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“While catering for sportsmen and women, it will clearly also benefit Edinburgh as a city, the local community, and our students here.”

Sport Minister Shona Robison said last week: “This project remains on track to be delivered by 2016 and I look forward to seeing the National Performance Centre up and running, supporting our elite athletes to develop and deliver on the international stage.”