VIDEO: Look inside Derry’s new £12m Foyle Arena

Derry’s new £12.7m sports centre at St Columb’s Park is on target to open to the public within weeks, the council confirmed as they opened the gates of the building site to give a sneak peak of what’s inside.

The state-of-the-art Foyle Arena will be officially launched at the end of March before it officially opens in mid-April.

The new Foyle Arena at St Columb's Park.

The new Foyle Arena at St Columb's Park.

The main features includes a 36 metre x 36 metre Main Arena hall, which is so big that the entire old St Columb’s Leisure Centre complex could fit inside it.

With the capacity to seat 2,000 people, the venue is now the largest indoor facility in the north west.

It can also be divided into two, and one of its main functions will be for contact sports.

Meanwhile the huge 15m high Climbing Arena, which runs the height of the building’s three floors,

has already attracted interest from climbing groups across Ireland and Scotland.

The wall is on such a scale that it is unqiue in the north, and while there are two others in the south of Ireland, neither is run by a local council.

As well as full-size swimming pool and sloping, smaller pools suitable for people of all ages, and people with disabilities, other features on the site include a strength and conditioning suite, ice bath and a large changing area suitable for families to change in together, regardless of gender. Outside there’s a three games pitches, a 2G hockey pitch and a 3G five-a-side pitch.

Other features include a wrestling studio and a studio that can be used for dance classes, activities or small conferences.

Speaking during a tour of the building on Wednesday, Noel Munnis, the council’s Head of Leisure Services, told the Journal:

“The total build cost is £12.7m and the vast majority of that is funded by Derry City Council, with approximately two thirds of a million pound of a grant from the Department for Social Development to upgrade the main hall as an events venue.

“The main features of the building are full size 25m, six-lane swimming pool, children’s pool, events area, main hall. The main pool will also be used for sub-aqua and coneing hobbies, and there is also a sauna and steam room.

“It will be a centre of excellence for judo climbing and wrestling for those three designated sports. There is excellent fitness, and strength and conditioning rooms and a very impressive international standard indoor climbing wall.

“In addition to that there’s the usual changing rooms, social areas, snack bars, and sports development accommodation.

“It’s a very impressive building with a very broad range of facilities and services.”

He added: “The ceremonial opening will be right at the end of March this year and after a little bit of a commissioning time, a couple of weeks. We will open to the public in mid-April of 2015. Everything is on target at the moment and on budget.”