Twickenham Stoop, home of Harlequins, is set to continue as a hockey venue next year as part of a long-term deal between the English Premiership rugby union club and England Hockey.
The partnership has been extended through a three-year staging agreement to take the sport back to The Stoop once a year until at least 2022. The venture commenced earlier this year as Great Britain’s men’s and women’s teams took on New Zealand as part of a double-header event on June 23.
Great Britain hockey teams had never before played competitive matches at the 15,000-capacity stadium and this year’s event drew more than 11,500 people, creating the biggest hockey crowd in the country since the London 2012 Olympics. The day of fixtures against New Zealand also ensured that more than one million hockey tickets had been sold in the UK since the beginning of the 2012 Games.
For next year, ‘Hockey’s Big Weekend’ will return to The Stoop on May 16-17. Four of the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH’s) Pro League games will take place over the two days, in the event staged by England Hockey, which oversees Great Britain’s teams. Argentina will be the opponents.
The event will see the ‘blue pitch’ return to The Stoop, utilising new drop-in pitch technology at the stadium. Harlequins’ commercial director, Alex Goldschmidt, said: “The ground-breaking pitch technology represents such a huge opportunity to grow the game and we are delighted to be part of the ambitious journey that hockey is embarking on.”
England Hockey commercial director Jonathan Cockcroft added: “Harlequins have been fantastic partners in this project and we are delighted to now have a three-year agreement in place. Like us, they are keen for sport to be as open and collaborative as possible, and with four matches in two days, Hockey’s Big Weekend in 2020 will be another great platform for our game.
“With these matches, plus another 12 games at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, our supporters will have the opportunity to watch great hockey in 2020 and then beyond.”