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Grassroots sports facilities: Demand outstrips supply

26th August 2020

Matt Sanders

There has never been such high demand for local sports facilities as there is right now. As many sports centres remain reluctant to fully reopen due to Coronavirus, online searches for facilities are at all all-time high.

According to data from Playfinder, the UK’s largest online booking service for sports facilities, searches for football pitches have increased 162% year on year. However, 73% of football pitches are currently closed.

It’s a similar story with tennis – searches are up by 140%, but 65% of courts remain shut.

Speaking to the BBC about the findings, Playfinder’s founder and CEO Jamie Foale explained: “People are not having their appetites to play sports fulfilled.

“We have huge demand but not enough supply to keep up as there are not enough facilities feeling confident enough to reopen.”

Playfinder lists 5,600 venues across the UK, which can be booked online. But while searches for sports facilities are at exceptional levels, bookings through the website have dropped by 85%.

The government’s ‘Better Health’ campaign urges people to lose weight to beat Coronavirus. However, people’s urge to get more active is being undermined by the lack of available sports facilities, says Foale.

The Covid-19 crisis could affect a wide range of grassroots sports in the UK. Badminton England, England Netball, Basketball England, Volleyball England and Table Tennis England have all expressed fears that indoor facilities have almost entirely disappeared.

Gyms, pools and outdoor spaces have been able to reopen over the past month, but sports that rely on indoor facilities remain “in limbo”, reports the Guardian.

Katy Ritchie, head of development for England Netball explains that 50% of netball activities take place in indoor sports halls. But with many gyms using sports halls as additional gym facilities and schools focusing on reopening to pupils in September, indoor sport spaces simply aren’t available.

As Foale states: “The industry is largely driven by memberships – based around swim and gym – and what they are trying to do is restart their memberships, which is completely understandable. Booking pitches has not been a priority.”

At Paragon Structures, we provide indoor sports facilities to help people stay active and keep grassroots sports alive. Specialising in sports facility construction for both the leisure and education sectors, our state-of-the-art tension fabric buildings offer a rapid build time and low construction and maintenance costs.

Take a look at some of our most recent projects or get in touch with the team to find out more.

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