First try for new Blackpool community rugby pitch

A new community rugby pitch in Blackpool has officially opened ahead of the start of the season.

The floodlit rugby pitch and training area at Common Edge Community Sports Village completes the £6m investment in the new facility. 

To celebrate the launch of the new pitch, Wigan Warriors brought the Super League trophy down a training session of Blackpool Scorpions, to help inspire the next generation of rugby players.

As well as being available to hire by the community, the pitch will also provide a new home for Blackpool Scorpions Rugby League team ahead of the start of their season in North West Men’s League Division Three, with the pitch and changing rooms being used by the men’s, women’s and junior teams for training and matches.

As well as the rugby pitch and training area, Common Edge Community Sports Village includes 14 new grass football pitches, along with a full sized 3G football pitch and sports pavilion.

The new sports pavilion also includes six changing rooms, two officials' rooms, two kitchens and a large community room. A 194-space car park with sustainable drainage and new access road to the sports village has also been completed as part of the works.

Cllr Jo Farrell, Cabinet Member for Levelling Up (People) at Blackpool Council, said: “Our investment in community sporting facilities across the town is all designed to help more local people benefit from an active lifestyle, which is proven to have positive effects on both physical and mental health.

“These rugby pitches complete a top-class development, befitting of a Super League outfit like Wigan Warriors, with new floodlights, sports pavilion and changing rooms. 

“As well as providing a quality environment, we hope this will inspire more people to play community rugby, whether that is a young child getting involved in sport for the first time, or adults using it as a way to stay healthy and pursue a passion.”

Dave Ratcliffe, Chair of Blackpool Scorpions, added: “These facilities are fantastic and it's every community club’s dream to be able to use a brand-new pitch and training area, as well brand-new changing rooms.

“There are Super League clubs that would envy a training facility like this. Hopefully it will inspire more men, women and girls to play rugby and get involved with our training sessions.”

The sports village has been developed as phase one of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, and improving the community sports facilities allows 10.5 hectares of land at the former Collins Park site to be unlocked for commercial development. 

Cllr Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Levelling Up (Place) at Blackpool Council, said: “The Common Edge Community Sports Village is a major upgrade in sporting facilities for the south of Blackpool that people of all ages will enjoy for years to come. 

“It also allows us to move forward with plans to attract new businesses on to the Enterprise Zone and create hundreds more quality jobs that local people can benefit from as we work to make Blackpool better.”

Work to build a new access road connecting Common Edge Road to Amy Johnson Way is hoped to start in the coming months, creating development plots for growing or relocating businesses to create new jobs.

Support to build a new access road to the sports village, as well as the new access road to Amy Johnson Way, has been provided through a £7.5m grant from HM Government Town Fund, while £250,000 of funding for the construction of the sports pavilion was granted by Football Foundation.

For more information on the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, visit www.blackpool.gov.uk/EnterpriseZone

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