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Council and university working together to develop sporting facilities in Swansea

A MARKETING exercise about the development of sporting facilities on sites along or near the seafront in Swansea is under way.

The development of the Swansea Bay Sports Park – there is a park of that name currently although it may not be that well-known – focuses on the Wales National Pool and land at Sketty Lane, Ashleigh Road and the King George V playing fields.

Early discussions have also taken place about the future of the nearby St Helen’s Ground. This has led to speculation concerning the Ospreys, whose home since 2005 has been the Swansea.com Stadium in Landore. The regional rugby side said it was “always open to exploring possibilities” but that its home ground remained at Landore in 2023-24.

Swansea University and Swansea Council are behind the proposal to develop the Swansea Bay Sports Park further.  In a notice on public sector advertising website Sell2Wales, the two partners said they shared “a vision of creating an internationally-renowned destination for sport that is managed and operated via a single entity and which is available to enhance the opportunities for community sport, performance sport, university clubs and schools/colleges”.

The management of the existing sports park has various arrangements, including a joint university and council one for the Wales National Pool at Sketty Lane, which is due to end on December 31.

The Sell2Wales notice said: “As a result the partners are undertaking a market engagement exercise to help shape the future delivery of the Swansea Bay Sports Park and would like to invite interested parties to participate in the market engagement as a precursor to any formal procurement.”

Any development of the council-owned St Helen’s Ground could impact on Swansea Rugby Football Club and Swansea Cricket Club, which both play there. Glamorgan also used to play some matches at St Helen’s but haven’t since the Covid pandemic, with the county side saying they had significant concerns that the surface and outfield would not meet required first-class cricket standards.

Cllr Rob Stewart, the leader of Swansea Council, said: “There is clearly a love for St Helen’s, both for cricket and and for rugby.” He said he hoped that Glamorgan would return to the iconic seaside venue at some point.

Cllr Stewart said the marketing exercise was intended to encourage interest from groups and organisations, including newcomers to the area. “We don’t have all the answers,” he said. “There are innovations happening all over the place.”

The council said Swansea had a rich and proud sporting history, and added: “The process is in its early stages and at this point we are looking to explore options. No decisions have been made and consultation with residents and communities will take place as the process progresses.”

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A university spokeswoman said a cluster of high-quality sporting facilities would help improve people’s health and wellbeing. She added that the university was strongly supportive of a council and Ospreys proposal to “explore opportunities to develop a community sporting hub” at St Helen’s.

In a statement the regional rugby side said: “The Ospreys are always open to exploring new possibilities. The Ospreys home ground for the 2023-24 season remains the Swansea.com Stadium. However, there is the potential to play certain games at alternative venues should there be a fixture clash with Swansea City. This is standard practice and will only be looked at once fixtures are confirmed.”

Mike Hayden, the chairman of Swansea Cricket Club, said it would like to remain at St Helen’s, especially given the work it was doing in the local area, which has a high number of people of South Asian background.

“A lot of membership is down to that community, and the club is growing,” he said.

It has three senior teams, four junior sides, a women’s softball team and an accredited cricket programme for younger children.

Mr Hayden added: “St Helen’s has been the home of Swansea Cricket Club since 1875. When it first opened it opened as a cricket club.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service also contacted Glamorgan Cricket Club and Swansea Rugby Football Club for comment.