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UEA Sportspark user figures rises

PUBLISHED: 18:02 04 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:24 02 July 2010

Sportspark has seen a 12pc increase in income last year after expanding to become the country's largest community sports facility.

Sportspark has seen a 12pc increase in income last year after expanding to become the country's largest community sports facility.

Sportspark has seen a 12pc increase in income last year after expanding to become the country's largest community sports facility.

Sportspark has seen a 12pc increase in income last year after expanding to become the country's largest community sports facility.

The centre, at the University of East Anglia campus, is described as a “supermarket of sport” and attracts 1.3 million visits a year, including both students and members of public.

And last year turnover rose 12pc to almost £3m - double the takings in its first year after opening in 2000 - in spite of the challenges of operating in a recession.

Sportspark, part of the university, operates as a self-financing business, without subsidy from the university or local authorities, and has overtaken Loughborough University as Britain's biggest community sport centre.

The centre underwent a £1.5m upgrade to Astroturf pitches in 2007 and in February 2009 expanded with the opening of Haydn Morris Hall badminton courts and Kiff Matheson conference suite following a £3.8m investment.

Future plans for Sportspark, which welcomed its 10 millionth visitor last year, include the development of a gymnastics centre, an expansion of the four-pitch SoccerPark and an additional 25 metre pool.

Director of PE and sport, Keith Nicholls, said high levels of insulation, heat reclamation and the design of the building with two arms around a central hub helped minimise energy and staff costs.

Its 50-metre pool also has an energy efficient design, reducing running costs, which bosses say has helped make it the only pool in the country to operate without a subsidy, with entrance fees covering maintenance costs and contributing to Sportspark's running costs.

Mr Nicholls said: “The university and county motto is 'do different', and Sportspark is a prime example of this approach.

“The university allowed me to challenge existing design and management practice to develop a completely new approach and philosophy for university and community sport.”

The centre employs about 50 full-time and 50 part-time staff.

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