Badminton England has announced plans to develop a new national centre for the sport in Milton Keynes. The facility is expected to include a minimum layout of 16 courts, accommodation for players, a fitness centre and a 3,000 seat arena which will allow for the hosting of major international tournaments.
Detailed planning is expected to be submitted in January with completion in the spring of 2015. The idea is backed by the local council in Milton Keynes and by Sport England which has overseen the development of world class preparation facilities for soccer at Burton on Trent and Cycling at the National Velodrome in Manchester.
This focus on state of the art sporting centres in different regions of the country is in contrast to the accepted wisdom of the benefits of a sports campus such as that being planned and developed now at Abbottstown.
It benefits from the energy that local communities can bring to a project that places them firmly on a national or indeed international map.
In Ireland we have the national rowing centre in Cork but national sporting bodies and their primary facilities are almost exclusively based in and around Dublin. This enables easier administration in a physical sense but with the overseeing Department of Sport based in Killarney since the days of decentralisation, it does present an interseting alternative.
We have existing facilities in Limerick, Cork and Belfast that could be developed as national centres of excellence and bring with them a new energy and sense of local civic pride based around one particular sport.
The facility at Badminton England will also have the facility to house other court sports such as Volleyball, Basketball, Handball, Netball and Table Tennis.
“We see this as the perfect place to enable Badminton England and Milton Keynes Council to realise an amazing vision that will deliver fantastic benefits for the local community as well as enable our world class players and stars of the future to train and prepare in the best possible environment,”said Adrian Christy, CEO of Badminton England.
“The new centre is planned to open just before Britain’s elite badminton stars begin their bid to qualify for Rio 2016, and the project will be of major benefit to players at all levels of the sport. It will also bring significant economic growth to Milton Keynes.”
Badminton Ireland’s national high performance centre is based at the Marino Institute of Education. It has four courts and onsite accommodation for players. Ahead of the London 2012 Olympics it hosted a pre Games training camp with players from 10 countries in attendance.
There are more than 500 affiliated Badminton clubs spread throughout the country and it recently hosted a national week to raise its profile and encourage new or returning players.