Monday, January 27, 2014

Still no decision on venue for netball finals at Glasgow 2014

January 21 - Netball is set to be one of the most popular sports at Glasgow 2014 ©Getty Images The location of the netball finals at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games is still not clear, as organisers continue to assess the viability of moving the matches to the newly built Hydro Arena from the smaller Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC).

The somewhat embarrassing situation for Glasgow 2014 organisers has come about as a result of a decision to host all netball matches at the 4,000 capacity SECC.

That is despite indicating during its successful bid to host the 2014 Games, that the semi-finals and final of netball could be held at the 12,000 capacity Hydro Arena, which is located within the SECC Precinct on the banks of the River Clyde.

Netball has proved to be one of the most popular sports at the Commonwealth Games since its introduction at Kuala Lumpur 1998 and represents one of the highlights of the sport's calendar as it is not on the Olympic Games programme.

The top 18 teams in the world could be set to compete in Glasgow, including the powerhouses of the sport, Australia and New Zealand, who have two Commonwealth Games titles each.

England and Jamaica, who are next in the world rankings, will also be among the medal contenders in Glasgow.

Following the decision to stage all netball matches at the SECC, tickets for the 11 days of competition quickly sold out when they went on sale last year, which has resulted in calls for Games organisers to reconsider their decision to hold the final stages at the SECC.

Netball has traditionally been one of the most popular sports among females in the UK and the three match series between hosts England and Australia in January last year drew crowds of up to 6,000.

The Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games final between Australia and New Zealand was played in front of a crowd of more than 9,000 at the Manchester Evening News Arena.

The Sir Norman Foster designed Hydro Arena in Glasgow was opened last year ©Getty Images The Sir Norman Foster designed Hydro Arena in Glasgow was opened last year ©Getty Images

However, when contacted by insidethegames, Glasgow 2014 would not elaborate on how far down the line they were with a decision, with a spokesperson saying a "feasibility" study is still being carried out.

"Glasgow 2014 strives to maximise the use of our venues so that the athlete experience is optimised by packed stadia throughout our sport programme," said the spokesperson.

"With regard to netball the current plan is to hold the finals in the SECC.

"Glasgow 2014 has committed to conduct an operational feasibility assessment to see if it is possible to host the netball finals in the SSE Hydro and the feasibility assessment is still on going."

The main obstacle facing organisers is the quick turnaround needed in order to ensure the Hydro Arena is ready to host netball matches as it is also scheduled to host boxing and gymnastics competitions.

Contact the writer of this story at By Gary Anderson

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