Design & Development

British Basketball League teams move into new arenas

Caledonia Gladiators have played their first game in their new PlaySport Arena, while Canon Medical Arena, the innovative new home of fellow British Basketball League club Sheffield Sharks, has opened its doors for the first time.

The Gladiators yesterday (Thursday) defeated the Surrey Scorchers 86-79 in front of a record sell-out crowd of 1,600. The team has relocated from Glasgow to play at the PlaySport Scotland leisure complex in Stewartfield, East Kilbride.

The 1,600-seat venue will play host to the Gladiators’ men’s and women’s professional sides, as well as aid the development of the club’s community and academy programmes. Adaption of the existing facility only began groundworks in March, with the Gladiators releasing renderings of the project last month.

PlaySport Arena marks the first time the franchise has had a place to call home and will eradicate issues of venue hiring and limited court time which the club’s professional sides faced before. The facility is a part of the vision of Gladiators owners Steve and Alison Timoney’s for a wider £20m (€23.1m/$24.4m) building project.

Steve Timoney told the Daily Herald earlier this week: “Our new stadium looks incredible, and we’re really pleased with the finished result.

“It’s been a very intense period getting the stadium ready, but it’s definitely been worth the wait. We’re also really proud of our new fan zone, which we believe will really add to the matchday experience for our fans.

“Scotland’s never had a purpose-built dedicated basketball arena like this before, and we’re excited to finally welcome our supporters for a league match.”

PlaySport Arena marks the first stage of the £20m project that will include the delivery of a permanent 6,000-capacity facility. The Gladiators detailed plans for the project, which will mark the largest investment in basketball in Scottish history, back in March.

Canon Medical Arena setting UK first

Sheffield yesterday opened up the UK’s first carbon-neutral built community arena featuring a multi-purpose sports facility and integrated Medical Diagnostic Centre. The construction of the Canon Medical Arena, which will host its first Sharks game on Sunday, has been carbon offset with support from CO2Balance and the delivery of wind turbines in India, in turn creating carbon credits.

Located on Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, Canon Medical Arena, formerly known as ‘Park Community Arena’ before Canon Medical Systems UK acquired naming rights in August, was built in collaboration with Park Community Arena (PCA), Sheffield Sharks and The LivingCare Group.

Situated within the 2,500-seat arena, the state-of-the-art Medical Diagnostic Centre is designed to bring better healthcare to the local community with closer-to-home appointments, as well as serving the wider South Yorkshire region, improving access to health screening and disease prevention.

The centre is operated by The LivingCare Group and features advanced Canon Medical imaging systems including AI-assisted CT and MRI scanners, ultrasound and digital X-ray, fluoroscopy, plus consulting rooms and a minor surgery operating theatre.

Sheffield is a city that faces considerable challenges on outcomes such as life expectancy, healthy life expectancy, educational attainment, unemployment, and housing. Currently the difference in life expectancy between the least and most affluent areas in Sheffield is 20 years for men and 25 years for women, and it is estimated that 20% of deaths per annum in the city could be prevented by removing the direct cause factors of obesity, physical inactivity, and environmental pollution.

The unique combination of the Medical Diagnostic Centre within a community sporting and events arena, operated by PCA, hopes to not only improve the availability of healthcare to address these inequalities, but expand community access to affordable sports, education and wellbeing facilities to help people lead healthier lifestyles, and increase physical activity, further supporting a preventative approach to healthcare.

The arena is the new permanent home for the Sharks and women’s team the Hatters, with three basketball courts and seating up to 2,500. The arena includes studio space and a classroom and will house the RESPECT programme, which aims to enrich the lives of young people by providing better access to sports, health education and physical activity.

Sarah Backovic, managing director of the Sharks and director of PCA, said: “Expanding on what has been a very successful partnership, we can now explore wider opportunities that support the Sheffield City Region, providing a venue for affordable use to all communities for sport and culture. From grass roots to elite performance teams and events, this transformational facility is open to all.”

Mark Hitchman, managing director of Canon Medical Systems UK, added: “There are areas of inequality in the UK where wellness is still determined by socio-economic group or postcode – and this is something that needs to be addressed urgently.

“With Canon’s long links to charitable causes, academic partnerships, health research and development organisations in South Yorkshire, the city of Sheffield is an obvious choice to build this first-of-a kind catalyst for societal change.

“The opening of the Canon Medical Arena brings the provision of healthcare and wellbeing closer to the Sheffield community, as well as supporting the NHS’ preventative aims to screen, detect, and diagnose earlier and, in doing so, aid faster rehabilitation and improve life opportunities.

“Identifying some conditions or diseases early can enable the prescription of lifestyle shifts, such as diet and exercise, before invasive, complicated, and costly hospital interventions are required.”

Canon Medical Arena forms part of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, which also includes a Community Stadium which opened last year.

Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park was established after the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in an effort to deliver whole population improvements in health and wellbeing. It is said to be the world’s only Olympic legacy park outside a host city.