Work on the purpose-built community sports stadium for British Basketball League (BBL) team the Newcastle Eagles has begun.

The 2,800-capacity venue will allow the BBL franchise to pursue its long-term goal of competing on the European stage.

The Eagles previously played at Newcastle Arena and the university’s Sports Central, having never had their own facility.

“This has been several years in the planning but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Eagles’ managing director Paul Blake.

“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 new venue will be open for 362 days a year and stage up to 40 events annually – including a minimum of 22 Eagles fixtures.

It will 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.