Nouse is able to exclusively reveal the plans and details of the new York Sports Village.
The development, which is scheduled to cost around £11m, will contain a 4G pitch suitable for rugby, football, American football, hockey and Lacrosse, as well as an eight lane county competition standard swimming pool, a health and beauty spa and several dance studios. It is due to be completed by Easter 2012, and will be open to students as well as the general public.
Sam Asfahani, York Sport President, has stated that the development will “completely revolutionise sport at York”, highlighting that it will “not only improve the experience of existing members both in terms of our clubs and general membership, but it will also be a great advert for prospective students”.
Jon Greenwood, Director of Commercial Services, has also claimed that when completed, the village will be “bigger than David Lloyd” and “much cheaper”, despite admitting that the project was a “big thing” as “there’s nothing else on the site yet – there are no infrastructures”.
The 4G pitch exceeds many sports club’s expectations, who were sceptical that even a 3G pitch, one of Afahani’s leading policies in the YUSU elections last term, would ever be achieved at York.
“To be honest with you, I never thought we’d get one, but it’s so brilliant that we have”, commented lacrosse captain Phil Harrold. “We’ve played on a 4G pitch at a tournament in Amsterdam before and it’s incredible, it’s head over heels above the astro we have at the moment” he continued, adding that “last year we had so many games cancelled because the pitches were waterlogged, but the new pitch will mean we can finally play all year round”.
Conor Brennan, Captain of the first XI football team, also echoed Asfahani’s thoughts on the development, stating he hoped that “better training facilities might attract better players to the uni in the future” and that that was “the biggest positive for us”.
In addition to the 4G pitch and its separate changing rooms, the York Sports Village will contain several dancing and fitness studios available to clubs outside of peak times and with storage for equipment, as well as a high end health spa offering beauty treatments, a steam room, and sauna and jacuzzi facilities.
A 150 station fitness suite will be available to members only, but with discounted rates for students, and will be open to members of the current University gym, while the pool will be available to both members and ‘pay as you go’ users. It will be fitted as a 25m County competition standard pool with 8 lanes and starting blocks, not an Olympic one as has been suggested in the past. It will also house 120 seats to be able to accommodate galas and competitions.
“The development will completely revolutionise sport at York. It will not only improve the experience of existing members but it will also be a great advert for prospective students.”
Sam Asfahani, York Sport President
There are currently no plans for new courts to be built, which Rob Wadsworth, Sports and Recreations Manager for Commercial Services, said “could cause difficulties”, stating that “if people want to play badminton, they can’t – there are no new facilities for that kind of thing at the new place”.
Wadsworth also specified that Commercial Services “haven’t worked out how the village will integrate with York Sport yet”, but explained that predicted membership fees and provisional timetabling are already in the process of being drawn up.
When asked how he hoped York clubs would be able to use the new facilities, Asfahani told Nouse that he has “every faith that the good relationship between York Sport and Commerical Services will continue” and that together they will “ensure that the needs of all our clubs are met, assuring that the facilities are at the right specifications for as many of our clubs as possible”.
Gold membership to the village is currently estimated at around £29 per month for students and £45 for the general public. This is substantially cheaper than the nearby David Lloyd gym, which currently charges around £55 per month and is used by roughly 1500 York students.
Silver membership, which will have limited use of the facilities and is for off-peak hours, is also estimated to cost students £20 a month and the general public £28.
Members of the current University Sports centre on campus will have access to the new Sports Village automatically included in their membership.
Wadsworth also revealed that the York City Knights were involved in talks with the University and would potentially be using the Sports Village for their official training. “They don’t want to invest in their own facilities” he said, “so they’re coming down to do a deal with us”.
Rugby President, Rory McGregor, expressed similar concerns of other sports Presidents, stating that although he didn’t “see any reason why local sporting clubs can’t benefit” from the new development, “University sports clubs should take priority”, stressing the importance that “timetabling shouldn’t lead to the disadvantage of York Sport”.
However, McGregor remains confident that Asfahani will deliver on his promise to push for the needs of York Sport, throughout the development of the project.
“He’s got enough experience and, having worked with him on the York Sport Committee last year, he has my full backing” stated McGregor. “His heart is in the right place.”
The £11m project comprises of numerous sponsors which have been somewhat controvertial.
The City of York council have given the University £3m towards the Village and as a result it will be open to the general public. Concerns have been raised over how much access York students will have to the facilities, with Greenwood stating that the council “want to be able to specify how many hours they’ll have available” and that there has been “no limit agreed” as of yet.
However, timetabling for the swimming pool is already under way. “Noone knew anything about programming pools” stated Greenwood, “so we signed it off to a company called Active Leisure who specialise in this kind of thing”.
A further £1m investment has been secured by the University through a government initiative, Sport England’s Sustainable Facilities Grant Funding. In march, Sport England announced a £10 million National Lottery funding round, Active Universities, which they stated would be “aimed at getting more university students playing sport”. Greenwood explained to Nouse that the York Sports Village will also be taking steps to promote Sport England’s various initiatives as a form of compensation for the investment.
“[It’s] bigger than David Lloyd and much cheaper.”
Jon Greenwood, Director of Commercial Services
The campaign for a swimming pool and new health club facilities on campus has been ongoing since the expansion of the University campus onto Heslington East.
The University originally outlined a timetable of 25 years till the project would reach fruition. However, after pressure from students and YUSU officers, many of whom made the pool a central feature of their election campaigns, the development has been prioritised and alternative sources of funding sought. The project proposal has also received strong support from the University Vice-Chancellor Brian Cantor.
The prospect of new sports facilities has proved popular among students. Jenny Mclaren, a third-year student, commented how she believed it was a “really worthwhile investment for the University”.
“The new plans look amazing,” she said. “Sports facilities on campus have always been really shoddy, so it is about time for something new and snazzy.
“My only regret is that I will have left by the time the pool and spa are built.”