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Basketball: Leicester Riders on brink of deal for new home

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Leicester Riders are on the verge of a deal that will secure funding for a new £2.5million 2,000-seater arena in the city.

Sport England are expected to announce later this month a £1m grant for the complex at Grace Road, the home of Leicestershire cricket.

That would secure all the funding for the community sports arena and end a 15-year search by treble-winners Riders for a permanent new home in the city.

Club officials are delighted because the initial application for the money from Sport England's Iconic Fund was rejected. There were concerns that the arena could not be built within the £2.5m budget.

A series of meetings between Sport England and the project's backers, which also include the cricket club and Leicester College, have now resolved those problems.

Riders director Kevin Routledge said: "We are getting close and it is exciting. It has been a 15-year journey to get to this stage and we are delighted.

"We have made changes to the design and costed the project down to the last penny.

"We have been told that if we met all Sport England's requirements – and we have done that – we would get the money.

"That grant would mean we have 100 per cent of the funding.

"The difference to Riders will be unbelievable. It will be the key to future sustainability."

The club are also confident of regularly filling the 2,000-seat arena, which would bring a big financial boost.

"We used to do it at Granby Halls and we turn people away at John Sanford Centre," said Routledge.

Head coach Rob Paternostro admitted moving to the new arena was a factor in him signing a new long-term contract.

He said: "It was very important. To have your own venue is not only good for the basketball side, the players and the coaches, but is good for the club. It is the next step for us."

After the funding is in place, the scheme, which also includes 14 flats on the corner of Milligan Road and Hawkesbury Road, will need planning permission.

Riders hope the arena will be completed by March and are in talks about where to play their games for next season, which starts in September.

Although Riders will play and train at the arena, 95 per cent of the time the venue will be used by college students, schoolchildren and adults for indoor sports, plus a basketball development programme.

Basketball: Leicester Riders on brink of deal for new home


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