Plans to install 100 workout stations at a popular Perth sports facility could prove “extremely detrimental” to sports clubs, including national teams.
Live Active wants to create a new fitness gym at Bell’s Sports Centre as part of a £750,000 refurbishment.
But it would mean the loss of the centre’s coaching hall, which is used by several teams, including volleyball, netball and badminton clubs.
Some of them have now joined forces to implore Live Active to reconsider its proposals.
We have spoken to representatives of three organisations about their concerns, which include:
- Fears the move would mean the prestigious National Badminton Championships could not be held in Perth.
- Concerns the loss of the sprung wooden floor could result in injury to players.
- And worries teams will find it more difficult to book training slots.
And we have sought assurances from Live Active about the future of club sport in what is one of Scotland’s largest sports facilities.
Bell’s Sports Centre refurbishment
The refurbishment is due to begin in the new year and should be complete by spring.
Live Active will convert the existing coaching hall into a station gym with cardio and resistance equipment.
Functional and strength training equipment will also be provided.
It comes after what bosses described as the “incredibly difficult” last 18 months, adding that access to sport facilities are “crucial for the wellbeing of everyone in the community”.
All fitness activities will be moved from Live Active Rodney to create one fitness hub at Bell’s Sports Centre.
‘Save our Coaching Hall’
One of those opposing the plan is the former president of Badminton Scotland, Ian Brown.
Although he is now retired, he is part of the new “Save our Coaching Hall” campaign.
Ian described the hall as one of the “best sprung wooden floored halls in the country”, with excellent height and lighting.
He fears players could be injured if they are forced to move to a hard-tiled floor.
“For example, the Scottish National Badminton Championships, which is a most prestigious tournament, have been held in the coaching hall since 2002, mainly due to the excellent facilities,” he said.
“If the coaching hall was no longer available, the event could not be held in the main dome area of Bell’s Sports Centre as no International coach (or the players themselves) will allow his or her players to play on such a hard surface and risk injury.
“It would be a great loss to Perth.”
‘We cannot be guaranteed to get the bookings we want’
Meanwhile, Perth District Volleyball Secretary Ian Innes has been playing volleyball among other sports at Bell’s since 1974.
He says Perth is already “well provided with fitness facilities” and questions why Live Active Leisure wants to add to the market.
And he is concerned the plans would mean bookings would become more difficult for teams who train at the centre.
He said: “Part of the rationale for the decision is that the displaced sports can go to other facilities.
“But the general public will not have first call on these as there are schools and the college who will have to provide for their own customer base first.
“Also, even now with the coaching hall, we cannot be guaranteed to get the bookings we want.
“It will be much worse without the coaching hall.”
David Munro, Perth District Volleyball Organiser since 1985, hopes an agreement can be reached between sports clubs and Live Active.
He said: “We do want to work with Live Active in order to reach a satisfactory conclusion.
“And we wonder what other options have been discussed and thought about before deciding on the coaching hall solution.”
What have Live Active Leisure said?
Live Active Leisure insists that despite the plans, team sport will remain a core offer at Bell’s Sports Centre.
Chairman David Maclehose said: “The Bell’s Sports Centre project will deliver an outstanding integrated sport and fitness offer combining gym, group fitness studios, squash courts and sports hall provision all under one roof.
“Other sports hall provision is also available at the North Inch and Glenearn Community Campus.
“And we will be engaging with other sports hall providers and partners at Perth College and Perth and Kinross Council to continue to work together to support sporting pathways and club development in Perth.”