Basketball: Leicester Riders' plans for brand new venue at Grace Road
Plans have been unveiled for a new 2,000-seat arena that will become the home of Leicester Riders.
The arena would be built at Grace Road, the home of Leicestershire Cricket Club, as part of a deal that also includes Leicester College.
The development would be at the Bennett End of Grace Road – next to the current indoor cricket school.
Details of the deal are still being worked out and nothing has yet been released on the financing of the project. Initial planning talks have taken place with Leicester City Council, although no formal planning application has been submitted.
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Jelson Homes DMU Riders general manager Russell Levenston said the club are excited about the project.
Riders currently play at the John Sandford Sports Centre, De Montfort University, but the complex is scheduled to close. They are there only until the end of the year, with negotiations in progress to extend that deal until the end of the season, in May.
Riders hope to open the new arena by the start of next season, in September 2013.
"It is a massive thing for the club," said Levenston. "Since Granby Halls closed, this would be our first opportunity to have our own long-term home.
"It is good to get the issue sorted as it's been going on for the last 15 years. The John Sandford Centre has been somewhere where we can only play games, but this new facility would be our own. De Montfort University have been so supportive and flexible in allowing us to keep on using the centre."
Levenston said he was confident Riders would be able to fill the new, much-larger arena.
"When we had the play-off games last season at Loughborough University, we had 1,200 people and had to turn others away because it was full.
"The John Sandford Centre has been full all this season too."
Levenston believes the proposal could be "truly transformational".
"As well as providing a long-term home for Riders, we intend the venue to be for mass participation – it will be the heart of basketball and cricket for the community," he said.
Leicestershire chief executive Mike Siddall said County are in the early stages of discussions, and that there is still a lot of work to be done.
"There is considerable synergy between the two clubs and it is potentially a very exciting opportunity for Leicester and the local community, and a demonstrable Olympic legacy for the city," said Siddall.
Claire Willis, from Leicester College, said it is an excellent opportunity for the students at the college.
"They would have access to outstanding facilities, which reinforces an already strong partnership with the Riders, allowing for future partnership with LCCC," she said.