THOUSANDS of people are throwing their weight behind a campaign to return Crowtree Leisure Centre to its glory days.
Dad-of-two Bobby White began the Bring Back Crowtree (BBC) petition, after realising his son was missing out on the memories he had of fun times at the centre’s pool and ice rink.
Although Crowtree is still operating as sports courts, its ice rink closed in 2000, and the pool and gym shut in 2008 to be replaced by the Aquatic Centre, despite a campaign to keep it open.
“Since the demise of the Crowtree Leisure Centre there is a massive lack of things to do in Sunderland,” said Bobby, 40, from Red House.
“We miss the ice rink and pool and want our kids to have the fun and memories we had.
“An Olympic pool is no match for what we once had. Sunderland needs a new super leisure centre for the health and well being of our next generation.
“We want back our ice rink, we want back our fun pool areas with slides. We want back the fun factor.”
In the two weeks since data manager Bobby launched his campaign, 4,500 people have joined his Bring Back Crowtree Facebook page, and more than 850 have signed an online petition.
More than 100,000 signatures are required, however, before the issue will be considered for debate by MPs in the House of Commons.
Bobby, dad to Luke, 12, and Daniel, six, said: “I was talking to my son a couple of weeks ago and he didn’t even realise that Sunderland once had an ice rink.
“It’s such a shame he doesn’t have the memories we have of the centre.
“It was such a big thing in Sunderland, everyone went there. Even ex-pats have joined the Facebook page and are sharing their memories of the centre.
“Everyone from the centre’s era has memories of going to the swimming or ice-skating disco on a Friday night. But kids now will have memories of sitting in a park drinking.”
Bobby added: “I know we have the Aquatic Centre, but it’s not family-friendly.
“It’s only good for lane swimming and you can’t even park there on match days. Maybe they can’t bring back Crowtree to the way it was, but we need a fun leisure centre again.
“I realise you need 100,000 signatures before the issue will be considered for debate, but the support in just two weeks has been amazing so who knows.”
l You can follow the BBC campaign on Twitter @BBCrowtree or like the Facebook group by searching for Bring Back Crowtree Leisure Centre.