Skegness could host the UK’s first beach stadium and become central to a new sporting craze, bringing thousands of visitors and dozens of jobs to the resort during its quiet season.
Skegness Beach Stadium Ltd, which will finance the project, believes the resort’s large sandy beach makes it an ideal location for international beach soccer games, national tournaments and local league games .
CEO Gary Shepherd said: “This is an opportunity for Skegness to bring in an exciting new business within the Olympic sports legacy, create new jobs and serve as a long-term driver of economic growth.
“This is Skegness’s chance to begin capturing major international sporting events, especially during what is typically our slow hotel season, as the season will run from April through to late October.
“We believe very strongly that the time to act upon this project is now.”
The announcement follows the arrival of England’s national beach soccer team which will today begin three days of training in preparation for an international tournament in Thailand next month.
England manager David Jones said: “We believe that Skegness Beach represents one of the last untapped major sports and entertainment markets in the country and will offer the entire nation an excellent opportunity to strengthen an established beach sports, hopefully destined for the 2020 Olympics.”
The ambition is to have 64 teams using the 2,040 seater venue for weekly tournaments, bringing more than 400,000 spectators and participants to Skegness foreshore, while enhancing the sport’s national exposure and encouraging more young people to participate.
The quick paced five-a-side game averages around 12 goals a game and is often accompanied with musical performances, cheerleaders and dance troupes to create a beach-party type atmosphere - which organisers say makes it a popular spectator sport, even for non-sporting crowds.
Out of season it is envisaged to host a wide array of entertainment, ranging from beach parties, big screen movies, circuses and much more.
East Lindsey District Council has welcomed the potential boost to tourism it could bring, as the district’s foremost economic driver.
Portfolio holder for economic development Coun Craig Leyland said: “Skegness and East Lindsey welcome investment opportunities to develop the tourist offer to attract new visitors to the area, we look forward to working with the facility managers, should it gain planning approval, to ensure the events raise the profile of Skegness and East Lindsey in a positive way.”
Arotech, the architects behind the venue, proposed for the site adjacent to Skegness Pier believes it will have a ‘dramatic, positive impact on the entire East Lindsey coast’.
Figures behind last week’s £1.2 million Scarbrough Esplanade covered canopy announcement, hope the two ambitious projects will complement each other to the town’s benefit.
Skegness Partnership chairman Jimmy Botton said: “This project adds value to our proposal to landscape Scarbrough Esplanade and fits perfect in this location,”
And the Mayor of Skegness Coun Mark Anderson added: “Skegness will give a warm welcome to national and international beach sports - the investment could bring and secure employment and attract new audiences into our beloved Skegness town.”
Pending district council planning approval, the project could be up and running as soon as June this year.
The England team will be training on Skegness beach this afternoon from 2pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am, when they will also be playing an exhibition game against Skegness United.
Spectators are invited to watch the team train and Sunday’s match and can win one of 25 casual official England team T-shirts to be given away each day to Skegness Standard readers - simply take your copy along.