It was announced at a press conference at 11am Wednesday 11th August 2010 that the Newcastle Eagles are to leave the Metro Radio Arena, their home for over 14 years, to relocate to the £30 million Sport Central at Northumbria University.
The impressive new arena was first used on Sunday 3rd August to stage the exciting Team GB versus FYR Macedonia, which Team GB won 106 – 96, in overtime. GB and Eagles star Drew Sullivan was impressed with the facilities and hinted that this type of arena could help the Eagles to attract bigger names to the BBL.
At the press conference Newcastle Eagles Managing Director, Paul Blake, thought it was, only, right to thank the Arena, publically, for being the Eagles ‘nest’ for the last 14 years and acknowledged that part of the success of the Eagles had been to facilities at the Arena. In fact the Eagles’ success over the last 6 years had been phenomenal, with an outstanding 143 wins to 34 losses, a staggering 81% win ratio. That win ratio had been even more astounding in the Fab years’, with 99 wins to 18 losses, a stunning 85% win ratio. Paul said that he had always thought that the Eagles had played in the best available local venue, but after Sunday and his own observations, he now knew that the Eagles were going to be playing at the best arena in the BBL!
This move has removed on e of the major headaches for the Eagles – concerts on a Friday. Last season was a case in point, with the Eagles having to go ‘on the road’ for 3 months to accommodate the staging of the hit musical Mamma Mia. No organisation can sustain 3 months of little or no revenue, with all the usual outgoings of mid season, but with no meaningful income. This will now not happen as the Eagles will play and train out of Sport Central. There is another bonus in training out of the University, because Fab was always fighting to find consistently high training facilities.
Paul and the Eagles have always had close links with Northumbria University. Paul as a student 20 years ago and the Eagles with their development programme. Paul then questioned why the Americans had such fantastic programmes and facilities, things that are so sadly lacking in the UK. However he insisted that all that was now about to change, thanks to the uniqueness of Sport Central. At present nowhere else in the country had facilities like these, even Loughborough University!
Turning to Northumbria University, Paul stated that the Eagles already had a close working relationship with the University, not only because the Eagles were dual registered, as Newcastle Eagles/Team Northumbria and that had been the case for the last couple of years, but also as the Eagles community Foundation worked closely with the university. The 2 organisations were ‘joined at the hip’ so this sharing of facilities only served to weld the partnership closer still. The Community Foundation programme and the University would work closely together and the Eagles would share coaches with Team Northumbria from now on.
“This move brings everything together and ties up many loose ends”, said Paul.
This point was, also, made by Ian Evans, Director of the University, who was delighted to welcome the Eagles to Sport Central.
“The Eagles are much more than a Team coming in.” Elvin said, “I am looking forward to working with the Community Foundation, and what they do in this area is astonishing, but we as a University are now offering the best of facilities in both education and sport’s training to all the regional talent growing up now.”
Team Northumbria’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Colin Stromsky enthused, “Sport Central was always conceived as a venue offering the best opportunities to the whole of the North East’s sporting community.”
“We are offering Northumbria’s students the chance to play sport to the highest level, with the best facilities in the country, and clearly the Eagles were the best at what they do in the country.”
With that in mind thoughts turned to the new season and, in particular, who will be playing at the Arena? On this matter both the head coach and managing director were very tight lipped. Paul, however, assured the website that once a player signs on the dotted line, that the website will be the first to break the news, so keep checking as announcements are imminent.
The Eagles and the University have signed a 4 year agreement and Sport Central now becomes the home of both the playing and administrative side of the club. This deal will run out in 2014. All major points had been sorted out and the only things left were to sort was the match day car parking and the bar arrangements, 2 things close to the hearts of many supporters.
“These will be sorted in time for the first game, do not worry. The fans are one of the reasons for the move. They will now be able to watch basketball in a state of the art facility, the best in the BBL. This facility is now the equal of most things seen in Europe,” said Paul, “That is where I want the club to go, Europe, and I believe that is where the fans want to go as well.”
“However, we must have a secure financial footing to do that, “explained Paul. I agree with that statement, look what happened to Guildford when they tried! That must not happen up here with the Eagles and Paul is well aware of that.
“This move to Sport Central, which has a capacity of 3000, should allow us to attract new sponsors, new fans and new avenues for revenue, that could make that European dream into reality!” mused Paul.
“But not just a one season wonder, much, much longer,” he added.
Imagine CSKA Moscow, Barcelona, Macabi Tel Aviv or Real Madrid coming to Newcastle in the Euroleague. Americans looking for a couple of years experience before heading back stateside to try for NBA contracts. Pops Mensah-Bonsu, tongue out in Eagles black celebrating another astounding dunk. Flinder Boyd believing that Newcastle black is better than some Spanish second division outfit. That is my dream and I believe that, deep down, a lot of you fans have the same dreams and Paul carries the same dream, hence today’s announcement. But, we must remember that the impressively mighty English oak standing tall in its field, buffeted by the winds, once was an acorn germinating in the ground leading to a tiny seedling, slowly developing into a springy seedling thickening and growing in strength and size, until a 100 years later, there is the mature oak!
At the moment Paul, Fab and everyone involved in the club are loving and nurturing that seedling as it grows towards giant oak status. So let us fans help this process by supporting the Eagles club on its journey to mighty oak.
So come on you fan, remove the crisp bits from your stomach, place the beer bottles in the recycle bin and let us get down to SPORT CENTRAL and make so much noise that the venue is rocking, deep to the foundations, lets fill the seats night in, night out for our stars, the mighty NEWCASTLE EAGLES!