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Poll: Calls for multi-purpose sports and entertainment arena to be built in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 16:35 09 October 2014

A multi-purpose sports and entertainment arena should be built in Ipswich, it has been claimed.

A multi-purpose sports and entertainment arena should be built in Ipswich, it has been claimed.

A multi-purpose sports and entertainment arena should be built in Ipswich, it has been claimed.

Nick Drane, head coach of Ipswich Basketball men’s side which is storming up the national league, has called for borough council chiefs to seriously consider creating an indoor sports and entertainment complex.

Similar entertainment and sports complexes across the country attract global music stars and act as a hub for a range of local sports clubs, as well as providing facilities for business conferences and educational classes for schoolchildren.

They create hundreds of jobs and boost the local economy, but the borough council questioned the sustainability of the idea, saying it would cost more than £10million.

Mr Drane said 350 eager basketball fans squeeze into the school gym at Copleston High School for his side’s home games – but insists they could draw up to 2,000.

He said: “There’s going to come a time when somebody with enough authority is going to come to, or read about, one of our games and see that, if we can get 350 people in a school gym, what could we do if the council or the town were to build an indoor entertainment centre?

“I’m not asking for a basketball arena to be built; we are just asking for someone to come and have a look and anyone with sense will see the value in an indoor event centre in the town. We are cramming 350 people into a school sports hall. Someone has to look at it and see this could be so much more.”

John Clough, director at Suffolk Sport, said the need for a large, indoor multi-court spectator venue in Suffolk has long been recognised.

He said: “The provision of such a facility would be of enormous benefit to the county, both in terms of opening up the opportunity of attracting major events in a number of sports but also in terms of the potential boost to the local economy that such events would provide.”

An Ipswich Borough Council spokesman said the authority spends around £1.5m on providing sport and entertainment opportunities every year at sites including the Regent, Crown Pools and Fore Street Swimming Pool.

He said: “We are already working with Sport England to look at an indoor sports strategy for the town, and while we always welcome suggestions to improve our town and appreciate this suggestion, it is our view that, at this time, substantial investment by taxpayers in such a proposal would not be appropriate – even if a location for a new multi-purpose arena could be found.

“Realistically, a multi-purpose arena would cost well in excess of £10m and would have substantial annual running costs associated 
with it.”

What sport, entertainment and events arenas do other towns and cities have in England?

First Direct Arena, Leeds

The £60m arena opened in September last year after a decade-long campaign by the local newspaper and residents to build a multi-purpose venue in the city. It has a capacity of 12,500 and Sir Elton John and Rod Stewart have already headlined concerts. It is also designed to hold conferences, exhibitions, comedy events, family shows and sporting events including boxing, tennis, basketball and Premier League Darts.

Plymouth Pavilions

The entertainment and sports complex opened in 1991 and is home to the Plymouth Raiders – one of the country’s leading basketball sides which regularly sells out its 1,480 capacity seating complex. Singers including Kylie Minogue, Jessie J and Kanye West have performed in front of 4,000 fans, while it also has an ice rink and facilities for corporate hire.

Bolton Arena

The £10m is home to many local sports clubs – including badminton, cycling and gymnastic clubs – conferences and a top-class tennis facility in its 6,000 capacity venue, which opened in 2001. It also has seven-a-side football pitches and a 400m running track, and meeting rooms for conferences and comedy gigs.

Hull Arena

It boasts an Olympic-sized ice rink and is the home of all ice hockey sides in the city. It has a seated capacity of 3,150 and is also a renowned concert venue, with Robbie Williams, Oasis and Ed Sheeran among the artists the arena has attracted. It has also hosted televised darts tournaments and boxing bouts. It opened in 1988.


  • Mr Drane speaks for all of us! Maybe his experience at the sharp end of local sport would be listened to more than others. Thing is, he'll have to get by IBC, who can't provide entertainment for the uni students they hope to attract, or book bands in their beloved Regent, or under used Corn Exchange! Mr Drane, you have Ipswich's (not Suffolks, they get enough money thrown at them) love and support! Come on the Town!

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    Mike Derruki

    Thursday, October 9, 2014

  • For a town of it's size, and let's not forget the immediate surrounding area we are very under served for sports facilities, the facilities we have are good but aging and not really wholly suitable for users with disabilities. Sports clubs and teams fight it out booking facilities months in advance and truthfully there are a lack of full size football pitches too. Hiring facilities is expensive and if they don't properly meet the needs of the users it is frustrating. On the entertainment side an alternative to the regent and corn exchange would be great for concerts, workshops, exhibitions. It would need a sponsor along with commitment from councils and residents plus the vision to make it happen. Well done Nick for raising an issue that coaches across the town have been talking about for years.

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    Thursday, October 9, 2014

  • There are two large plots of land at Ravens wood estate that would be ideal right beside the A14 , We were told one of these plots was for leisure facilities, and the restaurants hotels are all here , so why would anyone want to fight there way through all the traffic round the by-pass to Northgate area

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    Thursday, October 9, 2014

  • Can I add my support to the idea. I think it is about time somebody actualy got their eyes ou of the dirst and looked up for a true vision for this town. I would suggest you have two locations for it, either attached to Northgate Sports Centre creating with Ipswich Rugby Club on Humber Doucy Lane a true Sports centre for East Anglia, maybe even in the longterm closing Crown Swimming Pools and Building an Olympic Pool on the site. I you really wanted to be ambitious how about a mini opera house or Venue on the Dock Isand maybe linked to the University ?

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    The Ginge

    Thursday, October 9, 2014

  • It is a great idea - when you look at the country, East Anglia is always missing when it comes to major sporting and entertainment events. As mentioned, arenas such as Leed's First Direct Arena have provided a real boost to the local economy. Given the regions high take up for cycling it also amazes me that there is no velodrome in the East. Ipswich would be a perfect location and attract much needed income for the town.

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    Thursday, October 9, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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