Blackburn Rovers Community Trust have today unveiled exciting plans to construct a new floodlit 3G community sports pitch at Ewood Park, as well as improving the existing indoor facilities.
A state-of-the-art playing surface forms the first half of a proposed two-part redevelopment of the community sports facilities behind the Darwen End stand, creating a complete sporting complex between the stadium and a rebuilt Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre.
The pitch, which the award-winning Community Trust hopes to install subject to the receipt of significant grant funding from the Premier League Community Facilities Fund, would run parallel to the stadium and would be large enough for 11-a-side fixtures up to U14 level or 9-a-side fixtures for senior football.
The primary purpose of the pitch is to aid the development of grassroots junior, disability and women’s football. The pitch will also be used to deliver health, sporting, social inclusion and education programmes to improve the lives of local people.
Following completion of the planned pitch development, the Community Trust then hopes to identify further external funding to complete a longer term aspiration of rejuvenating the popular Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre. Proposals include new changing rooms, classroom facilities and a community meeting hall within a modified single-storey building, making better use of a similar footprint to the one occupied by the current centre, whilst also retaining the existing indoor pitches.
If the bid - which will be submitted by Blackburn Rovers FC and Blackburn Rovers Community Trust to the funding body on February 12th 2016 - is successful, the funding would be made available by June 2016, with work to commence as soon as possible after that point.
Planning permission has been sought for both phases of the exciting project, with residents invited to share their thoughts on the proposals at an open meeting on Tuesday January 19th between 3.30pm and 6pm, to be held in the Enterprise Centre at Ewood Park.
Blackburn Rovers FC would provide the land to the Community Trust to turn the new pitch dream into reality and Rovers’ Commercial and Communications Director, Alan Myers, has welcomed the exciting news.
He said: "This is a fantastic project and one which the club fully supports. A lot of tireless effort has gone into the planning stages to get the idea this far and we’re excited to see that we’re getting close to the stage when we can submit our funding bid to the relevant authorities.
"To be able to create such a wonderful community facility without the club having to bear the costs is a particular bonus and we trust that the people who live in vicinity of Ewood Park will share our passion for the idea when they see how it will assist with the regeneration of the area."
Gary Robinson, CEO of Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, believes that this redevelopment plan will be a source of great pride to Rovers supporters.
He added: "Through the determined work we and our partners have put in to making the concept of this pitch closer to becoming a reality, we believe that we have created a vision for a facility that the wider community can consider to be a key asset.
"We are edging ever closer to submitting what we hope will be a successful bid for the funding for the 3G pitch. Being awarded planning permission is key to this project being given the green light, so we welcome feedback and support from our neighbours at Tuesday’s meeting. Their backing will make a real difference to their area.
"Our Community Trust won two awards in 2015 for being the best Football League community department in our region at turning ideas into successful projects, so we hope that 2016’s big plans will help to create something positive that will add to the lives of the people of Blackburn for many years to come."