Building for the future

September 4, 2019

The Eagles Community Arena is home to the North East’s most successful sports team and boasts Newcastle’s most exciting new event space. Simon Rushworth discovered a versatile venue that is open for business and building for the future

It might be best known as the brand new home of the all-conquering Newcastle Eagles – commonly referred to as the ‘Manchester United of British basketball’ given a sustained period of success that yielded 23 major trophies in 12 years – but the unique buzz of Friday night BBL action is only the start of where Tyneside’s latest multi-purpose venue is concerned.

The striking Eagles Community Arena (ECA) is a landmark for excellence, inclusivity and diversity that is enjoyed by thousands of people every week.

Its flexible space and competitive rates make the multi-million-pound home of the Eagles Community Foundation the perfect fit for everything from national conferences and Zumba classes, to big-time boxing and corporate awards nights.

Easily accessed via Scotswood Road in the west of the city and benefitting from ample on-site parking, it’s little wonder the ECA is fast winning a reputation as Newcastle’s go-to destination for savvy event organisers seeking something different.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved here, and the potential of our new home is limitless,” explains Sam Blake, chief executive officer of the Eagles Community Foundation.

“As the name suggests, there’s a strong sense of community as soon as you walk through the doors. On any one day you might catch elite athletes mingling with members of the business community and local people making the most of our unrivalled on and off-court facilities.

“We want our friends in the North East to be as proud of the ECA as we are and we’re very much open for business!”

Sam is already able to reel off an impressive list of events that have taken centre stage within the walls of a venue that is as versatile as it is vibrant.

The CBI North of Tyne Mayoral hustings, Northumbrian Water’s Strategy Conference and the Newcastle Central Mosque Volunteer Awards all enjoyed a warm welcome at the ECA.

MTK Boxing staged a European title fight at the top of a card that featured undefeated Benwell- based fighter Joe Laws and earlier this year the arena space was transformed from a basketball court to a carpeted and secure exam room as hundreds of Newcastle College students sat end- of-year tests.

“We can host meetings for two to 2800 people,” adds Sam.

“The Brian Manning Suite caters for between 230 and 260 people depending on the set-up and can be broken down into three separate rooms. The suite boasts a private bar, a catering team and hi-spec AV system.

“It has already proven popular.”

The ECA has been more than a decade in the planning with Sam, Paul Blake – managing director of the Newcastle Eagles – and a committed cohort of Foundation trustees working tirelessly to see a bold vision reach fruition.

Funding partners included Newcastle City Council, Sport England and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Additional grants were secured from The Savoy Trust and the Reece Foundation, with long-term supporters and Eagles’ main sponsor Esh Group completing the impressive build ahead of its January 2019 opening.

“What sets us apart is that we’re not a venue driven by profit. Every time a business or organisation books space at the ECA they can be confident we will re-invest in a charity-run facility that’s already looking to the future.

“As an example, the Eagles Community Foundation is establishing a hardship fund to help everyone enjoy the health benefits associated with playing sport and our ultimate goal is to eliminate any barriers to participation at the ECA.

“We have the best facility to do that, but we are relying on ongoing support from the business community to help us to invest in – and support – our young people.”

Sam is currently seeking to appoint a female development officer to improve the provision of sport for women and girls within the ECA.

She explains: “We have the role models within our top-flight women’s team – Newcastle Eagles WBBL – to inspire the next generation of female athletes.

“But we need to reach out to those people and let them know that we’re here.”

And then there is the top-flight British Basketball League boasting an array of stars from home and abroad – spearheaded by the flamboyant Fabulous Flournoy.

From September, Friday nights will be BBL nights with sponsorship packages and season tickets still available for Newcastle Eagles’ first full campaign at their new home.

“Both the BBL and the WBBL teams love playing out of the ECA,” adds Sam.

“And why wouldn’t they? Our facilities – and our fans – are the best in the league!”

To find out more about using the ECA, email arena@eaglescommunityfoundation.com or call 0191 245 3880

Newcastle Eagles tip off their new season at the ECA on September 20 when Cheshire Phoenix visit Tyneside for a BBL Cup tie. Newcastle Eagles WBBL host Cardiff Met Archers in the WBBL Cup on October 6. For ticket details visit www.newcastle-eagles.com.

Newcastle Eagles
www.newcastle-eagles.com
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