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New look Avoniel opens following £8 million redevelopment

Date: 30 Nov 2021

Category: Leisure

Lord Mayor Councillor Kate Nicholl with Gareth Kirk, Regional Director of GLL, Belfast City Council Chief Executive Suzanne Wylie and Lord Mayor (for the day) Ezinne Nwosu at the new Avoniel

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Kate Nicholl officially opened the new look Avoniel at an event showcasing the redeveloped site in east Belfast.

The £8 million transformation will address the lack of 3G pitches in the area, while also providing flexible indoor space for the community. It is the fifth of seven new and upgraded centres that make up Belfast City Council’s £105 million Leisure Transformation Programme (LTP) - the biggest investment of its kind in the UK.

New facilities at Avoniel include an intermediate standard 3G football pitch, 240 covered seats for spectators, three covered and two uncovered 3G five-a-side pitches, an outdoor 3G seven-a-side pitch, multi-purpose rooms, meeting rooms and changing facilities.

Councillor Nicholl said: “This is a stunning new state-of-the-art facility which will play a huge part in improving the health and wellbeing of the local community. Through our Leisure Transformation Programme, Council has proven its commitment to getting more people more active, more often across the city.

“Our investment in new and upgraded leisure facilities in east Belfast alone totals £45 million. With the opening of Avoniel, the restoration and expansion of historic Templemore Baths which will open next autumn and the extremely successful Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre which opened in late 2019, this part of the city will be blessed with first class facilities catering for a wide range of users for years to come.”

Avoniel will be run by GLL, the social enterprise who operate all Belfast City Council’s leisure centres under the ‘Better’ brand. At today’s official opening event they showcased all the outdoor and indoor spaces to guests, with a range of sports on show.

The Irish FA hosted ‘Fanzone’ sessions with inflatables, skills stations and practice matches, as well as demonstrations featuring its disability football programme, danderball for seniors and the Shooting Stars programme for primary school girls. Ulster Rugby and Irish Boxing also held sessions for local schools, with participants moving between sport stations at intervals to try out each sport.

Gareth Kirk, Regional Director of GLL, said: “We want to see the new Avoniel established as the go to outdoor sports venue in the heart of the community in East Belfast. Already, we’re hitting almost 60% pitch occupancy during peak times and we believe this will continue to grow. The versatility of the indoor space means we can offer a varied weekly fitness class timetable, community events and corporate training, all of the things this community needs to remain resilient. Leisure transformation continues to have a huge impact on the lives of Belfast residents as we introduce new products at affordable prices in all corners of the city.”

The opening of Avoniel follows the opening of Olympia in 2017, Lisnasharragh and Brook in 2019 and Andersonstown in 2020 as part of the LTP. The upgrade to Templemore Baths is due to be completed in autumn 2022, while the final LTP project will see a new leisure centre built at the Girdwood Community Hub site in north Belfast, with work due to get underway in 2022.

For more information on the facilities at Avoniel or to make a booking, visit the Better website (link opens in new window). For more information on the Leisure Transformation Programme, visit the LTP web pages (link opens in same window). 

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