Work to start on Sports Centre expansion by January

Council approve €1 million funding to aid refurbishment and expansion of Regional Sports Centre

Expansion and refurbishment of Athlone Regional Sports Centre should start in January 2013 according to general manager Liam Cunningham.

The works which will cost some €2 million will see the gym area become two and a half times bigger, two fitness class studios will be added, and the gym changing rooms with be refurbished.

The funding will come from Athlone Town Council and will also be grant aided.

As the sole shareholder of Athlone Regional Sports Centre, Athlone Town Council has confirmed that they will be investing some €1million in the facility. Although mainly self-financing to date, the sports centre approached the council at the start of 2012 looking for funding for essential upgrades and in order to expand the facility. At Tuesday’s meeting of Athlone Town Council it was agreed that a loan of €1million would be acquired to fund the sports centre.

Due to wear and tear over the last 10 years and a need to compete with other sports centres and gyms in the region, as well as living up to the high quality customers expect, the board of the Regional Sports Centre looked for extra funding.

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Mark Cooney said that it was important to utilise and upgrade the sports centre. “It’s a huge asset to the town and has been operating very successfully. Ten years on since it opened its door it needs to be upgraded,” he said.

Cllr Sheila Buckley Byrne added that as the Regional Sports Centre is the only sports facility available to a lot of families in the area it’s important to keep it running in good condition. “How we develop the sports centre is an important statement for how we view our town. The people of Athlone deserve the highest quality facility,” she said.

Cllr Aengus O’Rourke said that as shareholders it was the council’s responsibility to help the sports centre, including the staff. “In terms of competitors we need to move forward and give the sports centre a new lease of life. This investment will secure the future of the sports centre.”

“The staff have put a lot of effort into the sports centre. It is not only a great social and fitness centre, but a business. And I urge people to get out there and use it,” added Cllr Gabrielle McFadden.

Speaking after the funding anouncement, Mr Cunningham said that staff of the centre were delighted with the news. “It gives us a chance to refurbish and expand. We hope to go to tender in September and start works next January. These improvements are a reward for our customers. The demand for the sports centre is there and we hope the new facilities will entice new members and minority groups who are looking to keep fit and healthy,” he said.

The sports centre has introduced a number of cost-saving initiatives for members in the past few years, including the Free Creche and Kids Go Free programmes.

They are also leading the way with a unique GP referral programme which is one of the most successful in Ireland. They are one of only a handful of sites in the country who can deal with people who have suffered heart disease.

Despite being a successful and popular sports centre, income has fallen since 2008.


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