In 2002, the Armitage Centre was at the heart of the Commonwealth Games and it was seen as a highly valued asset for University of Manchester students. However, as the years went by, other facilities cropped up around the city to rival the Fallowfield sporting campus and students and the public alike became dissatisfied with the quality and range of facilities.
However, over the summer, the Armitage Centre underwent extensive redevelopment works and The Mancunion Sport section were invited for a behind-the-scenes tour of the improvements.
The main developments are in the sports hall and the gym, but there are also refurbished changing and showering facilities in the previouslyinadequate firs pavilion, while the addition of a synthetic cricket pitch will be warmly welcomed by Manchester cricketers. The sports hall has had an immaculate new floor fitted and the various marked courts are international regulation size for netball, badminton and basketball.
There are new badminton nets and the basketball and netball hoops have been replaced. Further to this, there is now enough room for a safe run-off area at the end of the courts. However, the prize new additions in the main hall are the two giant electronic scoreboards, which add a real air of professionalism to the venue. Also, the LED lights can be varied to fit appropriate sporting requirements, for instance, the glare can be reduced for racquet sports – an adduced luxury admittedly, but one that sets the centre apart from others in the country.
In the gym, the free-weights area has been re-arranged and slightly extended to accommodate the huge demand for those hoping to ‘pump iron’ in the evenings, while even the smallest details have been considered with new carpets throughout the majority of the centre. The modernised, welcoming entrance area now gives an excellent first impression, a must considering the centre is hoping to convince students to part with a chunk of their loan at the start of the year.
Assistant Manager Mike Kelly is delighted with the improvements: “We have acted on pretty much every suggestion the public and students have given us.
“We wanted to create a world class sporting venue for everyone as we firmly believe that sport has a huge part to play in the student experience.
“We also hope to encourage people to be active in body and mind, and we think these changes should encourage people to try new sports and enjoy themselves in a top facility.”
Manchester University sport is thriving on campus and in the 2012/13 season, the AU teams came ninth in the overall BUCS standings, ahead of some excellent sporting institutions including Cardiff Metropolitan University, Newcastle University and Christie Cup rivals the University of Leeds. Cracking the BUCS Top 10 list was a remarkable achievement which was greatly helped by teams such as the Women’s Rugby who won the BUCS Cup and excellent performances in Squash and Badminton. Sizable investment in Manchester sporting facilities is only going to help students go further and achieve their full potential in the purple colours of Manchester.
Mike also divulged that there are further exciting developments in the pipeline over the next few years however, for now, they remain a Mancunion Sport secret. Nonetheless, the Armitage Centre stands out as a venue of sporting excellence. Whether you are an international sportsman or a hapless five-a-side player, the facility has something for everyone in an ideal setting for our students.
Any feedback on the exciting new changes is warmly appreciated by the Armitage Centre, so please do post comments on their Facebook page and tweet the Mancunion Sport section @Mancunion_Sport to let us know what you think.
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