The transformation of Olympia Leisure Centre into a modern 21st century complex is now complete with the official opening of its new outdoor facilities including multi-use games area, play-park, artwork and a new tree lined boulevard.
Linfield Football Club’s new Midgley Park Training Ground, which is located on the Olympia site, will also be officially opened, as they and Belfast City Council celebrate the completion of the £21.75 million complex that adjoins the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
The new tree-lined boulevard now presents an attractive entrance to both the Olympia leisure facilities and the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
Members of the Irish Football Association, Linfield FC, local community and sports groups joined the Lord Mayor, Councillor Deirdre Hargey, at the opening that marks another step forward in the council’s 10 year £105 million Leisure Transformation Programme for Belfast.
Major Boost for Local Community
Councillor Hargey said: “These new facilities are a major boost for the local community offering opportunities to improve the health and well-being for all ages with the play-park, multi-use games area and 3G pitch.
“The new John Stewart Bell pedestrian entrance, named after the noted physicist from Tate’s Avenue, offers easier access while the Ralf Sander artwork- funded by the Department for Communities and highlighting the link between football and physics adds to the attractiveness.
“We are working with communities across the city as we undertake the Leisure Transformation Programme to improve the health and wellbeing of those who live, work or visit Belfast in line with the Belfast Agenda – the long-term development plan for Belfast.
“We know that working in partnership with others is the best way to help us fulfil our ambitions for the city, as shown by today’s event. The involvement of the IFA and Linfield FC ensures that the local community experience concrete benefits from hosting the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
“The new state of the art Olympia Leisure Centre opened last year and operated on our behalf by GLL has attracted people from across Belfast to its exceptional facilities – this attraction can only be complimented by the new outdoor facilities and the fantastic new boulevard which frames the entrance to the complex,” said the Lord Mayor.
“The Stadium Community Benefits Initiative, a partnership programme between Belfast City Council, Irish Football Association and Department for Communities has already set-up a walking football club and Futsal club in Olympia and with the new pitches now open we intend to extend these programmes.
“We are also continuing to build on the attraction by marketing two sites on the Boucher Road for commercial development, again boosting the benefits for the local community,” the Lord Mayor said. “Work is also ongoing to provide new leisure facilities in other areas, including the new Robinson, Andersonstown and Brook Centres which are all due to open next year.
“I am delighted to see so many people from the area joining us as we officially open these new facilities and wish them good health and much enjoyment as they use them,” added Councillor Hargey.
President of the Irish Football Association, David Martin, said: “I would like to congratulate Belfast City Council on the completion of the fantastic new Olympia complex. These facilities are state-of-the-art and I have no doubt that they will be a positive addition to the sporting life of the city.
Wonderful New Entrance
“I am particularly pleased with the new tree-lined boulevard which creates a wonderful new entrance to the stadium, the new centre and the outdoor facilities. The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park is for everyone in Northern Ireland and the new avenue from the Boucher Road will offer an impressive welcome to both local and international fans.
“It has been just over four years since the start of the redevelopment of the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park began. The community, in the Boucher Road and Village area have shown huge patience and understanding with the work that has gone on around their homes. Through the Stadium Community Benefits Initiative, the Irish FA and Belfast City Council are committed to maximising the impact that the stadium has for local residents and for everyone in the city.”
First-Rate Training Facility
Linfield FC President, Peter Lunn, said: “Linfield Football Club is privileged to be a partner with the Belfast City Council in facilitating this exciting major development of a Sports Village Complex around the new National Stadium at Windsor Park.
“This project, superbly managed by the City Council at all stages, has provided a facility at the new realigned Midgley Park that meets the standards required by the Intermediate and Women’s Premier Leagues, ensures a first-rate training facility for all the club teams, and gives opportunity for Linfield to engage with the local community in a variety of novel ways.”