New era dawns for Newcastle Eagles as work begins on 2,800-seater arena
Construction has begun on a new home for the Newcastle Eagles basketball team, along with its charitable arm the Eagles Community Foundation (ECF), at Riverside Dene in Elswick.
The move to the 2,800-seater venue will allow the most successful franchise in British basketball history to pursue its long-term dream of competing on the European stage.
Breaking ground on the new project brings to fruition a long-term partnership between ECF and Newcastle City Council, Sport England, Newcastle College and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP), which provided a £1.1m grant from the Local Growth Deal to help fund the build.
Eagles’ Managing Director Paul Blake, who celebrated 20 years with the club earlier this year, said: “This has been several years in the planning but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We have been immersed in this project day and night for as long as I can remember and to reach the point where we can begin work on our new home is incredibly exciting.
“Of course it marks the beginning of a brand new era for Newcastle Eagles and Eagles Community Foundation and I know that everyone at the Eagles shares my keen sense of anticipation.
“From day one the construction of the Eagles Community Arena (ECA) was also about delivering a facility that welcomes people of all ages and abilities and encourages healthy living and wellbeing through sport.
“That’s what we will have and I’d like to place on record my huge thanks to our partners at Newcastle City Council, NELEP, Sport England and Newcastle College.
“This is a significant day in the development of sport in the city and region, something we should celebrate.”
The ECA will be open for 362 days a year and stage up to 40 events annually - including a minimum of 22 Eagles’ fixtures.
The venue will be open from 8am-11pm daily and embrace a wide range of sports clubs, organisations, age groups and abilities - becoming a focal point for leisure and recreation in the West End of Newcastle.
Andy Radcliffe, chief executive of Esh Group, the construction firm building the venue, added: “It’s fantastic to begin work on this exciting project that will deliver real value to Newcastle and the surrounding area.
“The Eagles’ and Esh Group both share an ethos of supporting the communities in which they work.”