Work kicks off to build new multi-million pound football hubs at three sites across Sunderland
A hat-trick of football pitches are on the way to Wearside as work begins on a £18 million hub plan which will create 10 new pitches across the city.
Construction is starting on the first project of its kind in the region - with cash pledged by the Premier League, The FA, the Government, the Football Foundation, Sport England and Sunderland City Council.
They are being created on sites already used for games, giving the Community North Sports Complex in Downhill, Ford Quarry and The Northern Area Playing Fields in Washington an upgrade, with Esh Construction carrying out the work.
The Football Foundation project, the fourth in the country, will see the creation of 10 full size 3G artificial grass Football pitches (AGPs) across the scheme, which will be accompanied by pavilions offering changing areas as well as a space to socialise.
Community North Sports Complex will also see a brand new health and fitness offer included within the building.
Four existing grass pitches will be upgraded, one at Northern Area and three at Community North Sports Complex.
Council leader Councillor Graeme Miller, said: “Following on from the wonderful news of Sunderland being formally awarded funding in November, the start of construction on site is a huge step towards Sunderland Community Football Hubs becoming a reality.
“Not only will the hubs be a huge plus for community football in the city, we can be proud to be leading the way in having some of the finest community facilities in the country.”
Paul Redman, divisional director of Esh Construction, said: “It’s great to be working alongside Sunderland City Council on another brilliant scheme which is a fantastic investment for the city.
“The hubs will provide great opportunities for all ages to play sport on first class facilities.
“We are looking forward to engaging with the community and local schools across the area providing a range of Social Value initiatives whilst delivering this project”.
Each of the hubs will be operated by Pulse Soccer, which has been confirmed as the operators for all three hubs following a successful tender in 2018.
It already runs the Sheffield and Liverpool Football Hub models.
It is anticipated that all three Sunderland hubs will become operational this year, enabling football to be played across the sites in the 2019/20 football season.