PROJECT UPDATE: Highfield Park’s new sporting arena

Children playing on the new sports pitch and, what it used to look like before its 44,352 overhaul
Children playing on the new sports pitch and, what it used to look like before its 44,352 overhaul
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Sports pitch is officially opened by the mayor after big overhaul.

What’s happened?

Highfield Park’s new sporting arena has been officially opened by the mayor of Blackpool, Coun Gary Coleman. It marked the end of a 12-year journey, which has seen the multi-use games area (MUGA) smartened up. That started in 2006 when the Friends of Highfield Park formed. A lad stood at the derelict football pitch and asked the group’s chairman: “When are you going to get us some new football nets?”

What was it like?

Back then, there was little more than an asphalt area, surrounded by heavy concrete posts. Fences had long been down, and the area was looking neglected.

What’s it like now?

The adjacent tennis courts were spruced up, with the help of local councillor Lily Henderson, and now, so has the MUGA – which has been dubbed the ‘sports arena’. The group said that, wherever that boy is now, they hope he will “approve of the latest improvements”. A spokesman said the arena is “looking much smarter and ready for a game of football, basketball, or netball, all of which youngsters said they would like to play when the Friends [group] consulted the park’s visitors during a public consultation”. A table tennis table has been installed as part of a council project, supported by Beaverbrook’s. Asda gave £200 for bats and balls.

How much did it cost?

“It took a fair while,” the group spokesman said, as well as several funding applications, but the £44,352 needed to install the facility was eventually raised. Some £20,000 came from water company United Utilities, £20,000 was given by Sport England via the council’s parks department, £2,000 was raised through sales of carrier bags at supermarket Tesco, and £1,000 was given jointly by Coun Lily Henderson, and her fellow local councillor Peter Hunter. The remaining amount was raised by the group itself.