Investors wanted by Copleston Sports Centre and Ipswich Basketball Club to build ‘world class’ indoor sports arena

Ipswich Basketball Club prepare for the new season at Copleston Sports Centre.

Ipswich Basketball Club prepare for the new season at Copleston Sports Centre. - Credit: Archant

Copleston Sports Centre and Ipswich Basketball Club plea for investors to make long-awaited dream a reality

(L to R) David Leach, head of sixth form and director of sport at Copleston High School, Ipswich Bas

(L to R) David Leach, head of sixth form and director of sport at Copleston High School, Ipswich Basketball Captain Tom Sadler and Ipswich Basketball head coach Nick Drane.

As a vision to build one of the country’s best indoor sports arenas in Ipswich is unveiled today, those behind it are calling for local investors to support the project.

Copleston Sports Centre and Ipswich Basketball Club have pledged to invest in a new £750,000 “world-class” facility at the sports centre.

It could also double up as a live entertainment venue.

The arena would include two basketball courts, including a show court and pull-out bleacher style seating, provision for other sport clubs struggling to find a home and a venue capacity running into the thousands.

(L to R) David Leach, head of sixth form and director of sport at Copleston High School, Ipswich Bas

(L to R) David Leach, head of sixth form and director of sport at Copleston High School, Ipswich Basketball Captain Tom Sadler and Ipswich Basketball head coach Nick Drane.

But investors are needed to provide vital funds and help spearhead the project.

Nick Drane, head coach of Ipswich Basketball Club, which has been storming up the national leagues in recent years and is based at Copleston Sports Centre, said: “There really is a very realistic chance that the town can have a world-class indoor sporting facility which would make Copleston one of the most complete sporting facilities in the country.

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“It’s long overdue as there is only so much you can do with 200 seats at one end of a sports hall.

“This is a massive, massive thing and we are trying to get the town to grab hold of this opportunity to make a huge difference. It would put us on the map in so many ways.

“A lot of people have great ideas when they sit around in the pub about what the town needs and what’s wrong with sport and all the rest of it, but here’s a chance to really get involved and make a difference.

“We need people who have influence, expertise or quite frankly deep pockets to get on board. I don’t have the expertise but I have the enthusiasm to drive it, and the sooner we raise the money, the sooner we’ll start.”

A facility contractor visited the sports centre last week and quoted around £750,000 for the proposed arena. Experts are drawing up designs and there are plans to apply for planning permission.

Mr Drane added: “If it goes ahead, it won’t just be used for basketball. It will be a community facility and we are very willing to talk to other indoor sports that are struggling with facilities in the town.

“I also see no reason why the town couldn’t take advantage of it from an entertainment perspective. People could hold concerts or dance shows as it would be the biggest indoor space in the town with arena seating.

“There’s so much potential for the town, not just the Ipswich basketball team. I think the town needs it.”

David Leach, head of sixth form and director of sport at Copleston High School, said school’s headteacher backed the scheme.

Mr Leach said: “I must stress that these are still very early stages and there is an awful amount of work ahead, but a pipedream could become reality.

“We have been given the green light and it is quite exciting for us all. But there are no guarantees and raking in that sort of money is going to be a serious challenge. Obviously we will apply for funding but we need partners on board.”