Merton Council has confirmed investment of more than £1m into local sports facilities and activities as part of its intention to build the borough’s sporting profile.
Tennis, athletics and sports field improvements are all part of the fixture list as the council begins planning its Borough of Sport campaign, aimed at providing first-class facilities to encourage sports participation across the borough.
Up to 40 of the borough’s 69 tennis courts will be fully refurbished as part of a programme beginning this year – delivering new playing surfaces, fencing and gates.
£150,000 has been made available by the council for the work to courts at Wimbledon Park, and work to release funding for the remaining courts is underway.
The athletics track at Wimbledon Park is also scheduled to be fully resurfaced this October, ensuring a high-quality, low-cost training facility for local clubs and athletes.
The council will provide £60,000 towards this, and has secured additional funding from English Athletics towards the project. A contribution will also come from Hercules Athletics Club.
There will also be investment this year into improving the drainage and playing surfaces at the Council’s playing fields.
Following improvements to the drainage at Wimbledon Park playing fields last year, the council will use £175,000 set aside last year to fund similar improvements to the sports pitches at Sir Joseph Hood fields at Motspur Park, and Joseph Hood Rec ground.
As well as encouraging sporting ambition in the borough, the improved facilities will also be used to promote healthy lifestyles and leisure activities, contributing to a healthier Merton.
Council Leader Ross Garrod said: “Merton has an amazing sporting heritage. Aside from the Championships, we have great community clubs like AFC Wimbledon and Tooting & Mitcham United, historic grounds such as Mitcham Cricket Club and hundreds of grass roots clubs.
“Our borough is home to some 150 football clubs, 13 cricket clubs, 80 rugby clubs, 45 hockey teams – the list goes on.
“Our ambition is to leverage that heritage and achievement to invest more into sports and leisure across the borough – ultimately we want to create a platform for our sporting hopefuls to become tomorrow’s champions.
“This package demonstrates our commitment to providing good quality sporting infrastructure and as we progress over the next few months, we will be announcing even more improvements.”
The announcement comes as part of the borough’s first review paper into sporting facilities and success in Merton; highlighting that while the borough has excellent sports facilities, the council only owns around half that infrastructure, with some sports being forced to use facilities elsewhere due to the lack of provision locally.
The total commitment in the current programme is £1.3million, which follows a wider investment of more than £10million into sports infrastructure across the last decade – including the opening of the new leisure centre in Morden.