Warwickshire County Cricket Club has donated its Edgbaston Stadium to the Department of Health and Social Care to create a drive-through COVID-19 testing station.
The facility will be used to regularly test NHS staff who are working in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region of England. Beginning operations in the coming days, the NHS staff testing centre will be positioned within Edgbaston’s main on-site car park.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) last month agreed that no professional cricket will be played in England and Wales until at least May 28. The NHS staff COVID-19 testing station will remain at Edgbaston until further notice to support the measures that have been implemented by the UK government to counter the virus.
Neil Snowball, chief executive of Warwickshire, said: “With our county cricket programme and conference and events business closed until May 29, our staff have been exploring various options which enable the club to keep supporting our local community during these difficult times, whether that be through making calls to our elderly members and ex players, volunteering and by offering Edgbaston Stadium for use in the wider civil contingency effort.
“Whilst it is a small part to play in the grand scheme of things, we are pleased that our stadium can be utilised to support the fantastic efforts being made by all of our NHS staff in response to the coronavirus crisis. We are also very grateful for the support that we have received in delivering this project from Patrizia and Homes England, our development partners”
Warwickshire said it also plans to show thanks to the NHS by providing free entry to its staff at a Birmingham Bears fixture later this summer.
In Northern Ireland, Belfast’s SSE Arena is also being utilised for a drive-through testing centre.
Five carports have been erected at the arena, a major concert venue and home of the Belfast Giants ice hockey team.
The arena’s car park has been divided into coned-off lane ways.
Cardiff City Stadium
In Wales, Cardiff City Stadium, home of the national football team and Championship club Cardiff City, is being utilised as a testing facility.
Tents have been erected in the stadium’s car park, while the football club has also offered its House of Sport indoor training arena to authorities. Cardiff’s Principality Stadium has already been turned into an emergency hospital to help during the crisis.
Cardiff City chief executive Ken Choo told the Wales Online website: “We are helping to provide a coronavirus testing facility. We’ve given our services. We are working closely with the government, council, and the authorities to make sure we can facilitate this. We’ve also offered the House of Sport if they need it. We wish to help in any way we can.”
English Super League rugby league club Leeds Rhinos has made Emerald Headingley Stadium available to the Yorkshire city’s emergency front line services.
The Headingley Lodge has been made available for front line workers who may need to isolate themselves from family who are showing symptoms, plus the stadium has been offered up for any other needs the local authorities may require.
Emerald Headingley, which is also home to Yorkshire County Cricket Club, last year reached the end of a £45m (€51.1m/$55.3m) redevelopment project.