Swindon AdvertiserJumping through hoops to net basketball arena (From Swindon Advertiser)

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  • "Why is it, whenever I read the words "a delegation from Swindon Council", my mind sees maybe one person who actually *needs* to visit, then a gang of hangers-on and lackeys. (For reference, see any pictures from the Big Day Out a few years back when the place was rammed with councillors and guests)."
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Jumping through hoops to net basketball arena

Swindon Advertiser: The new basketball arena to be used for the London Olympics which was visited by delegates from Swindon this week The new basketball arena to be used for the London Olympics which was visited by delegates from Swindon this week

HOPES are growing that the 2012 Olympic basketball arena could form part of the redeveloped Oasis Leisure Centre after a positive visit to the park in London.

Moirai Capital Investments, the developer leading the £65m overhaul, has registered an interest in securing the outer shell of the 12,000-capacity stadium, which is designed to be dismantled after the Games.

Under Moirai’s draft plans, about one third of the structure would be fitted out internally to create a 6,000 to 7,000-seater multi-use arena to be used for concerts, while the remaining third would become a sports hall.

Recently, a delegation from Swindon Council and the developer visited the arena at Stratford, to allow the council’s planning officers to investigate whether the size and character of the building would be suitable at the Oasis.

The Adver understands the officers will deliver an informal indication to Moirai in seven to 10 days, and if the response is positive then the developer will make a multi-million-pound bid to buy it. The proposal would still have to go through the formal planning process.

Coun Keith Williams, Swindon Council’s cabinet member for leisure and strategic transport, who was among those who visited, said: “It was very positive. We had to try to picture what it would look like.

“And looking at the building, looking at some of the information that’s been given to us subsequently, this really will be an excellent building.

“And I would say when the Olympics are on TV, it will be something that will feature quite highly, and it will give people an opportunity to see the building being used. To have a building of that nature being brought to Swindon is really going to be great for the town.”

Coun Williams said the officers still had to consider their response, but the first impressions were very positive and he was not aware of any issues.

Barr Construction, the Scottish firm which built the stadium at London’s Olympic Park, said in January its “preferred” option would be to re-use the whole stadium at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but if not, there were others interested in using it.

But the Adver understands the deadline for Brazil to confirm the deal elapsed in April and it no longer has first refusal.

The paper also understands there are about two or three potential bidders, including Brazil, although there is no preferred bidder, and Moirai hopes to close the issue in six to eight weeks.

The arena would replace the 3,000-capacity Oasis sports hall as Swindon’s main concert venue, while the new sports hall could be used for basketball, squash and badminton.

The Oasis transferred to Moirai on June 1, with a 12-month refurbishment to start soon.

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