The Scottish Government’s decision to build a centre from which Scotland’s sporting success can grow is to be welcomed and the benefits it will bring for the next generation of national sporting stars are undeniable.
This is an opportunity to develop a world-class performance facility for sport in our capital city; to prepare Scottish athletes for the world stage; to inspire a generation to be the best that it can be; to create a lasting legacy for sport in Scotland. An opportunity that must not be allowed to pass us by.
Of course, Edinburgh already has a proud tradition of producing world-class athletes, such as Sir Chris Hoy, Kath Grainger, David Wilkie and Allan Wells, and the proposed development will ensure that Scotland will continue to produce athletes of that calibre.
With a full-size indoor third-generation football pitch, “Hampden” standard grass pitches, a nine-court sports hall and 100 station fitness studio among the facilities planned for this national centre, Heriot-Watt University’s bid is an exciting opportunity to put Edinburgh at the heart of sporting excellence in this country.
The university’s ethos of world-class teaching and learning fits perfectly with the aspirations of the National Performance Centre for Sport. The plans to incorporate access for the local community and local sports clubs will bring huge benefits for sport in the city, and the site also offers ample opportunity for future expansion should this be required.
The council is fully behind the bid and our officers are working in partnership with the university to give them all the support they need. And, in line with our Capital coalition pledge to continue to support and invest in Edinburgh’s sporting infrastructure, we have agreed to contribute towards the balance of £5 million required to meet the £30m cost of the project.
Edinburgh already has an enviable reputation as one of the world’s premier events destinations and this would undoubtedly be another string to our bow, another opportunity to showcase our wonderful city to rest of the world.
Coaching and other sporting conferences could be a regular fixture in the calendar generating millions of pounds for the local and national economy.
The proposed development’s close proximity to transport infrastructure, including Edinburgh Airport, M8, M9 and City Bypass, and the newly refurbished Waverley and Haymarket stations, will mean that the centre is accessible to people from across the country.
Locating the National Performance Centre for Sport in Edinburgh would ensure that the legacy of both the 2012 Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games has the best possible chance of inspiring Scotland’s future sporting heroes.
I am sure you will agree that this is an exciting development for sport in Scotland and a great opportunity for Edinburgh. We’re fully behind Heriot-Watt’s bid and I hope the people of Edinburgh get behind it, too.
Councillor Richard Lewis is culture and sport convener at Edinburgh City Council