Although it will be a significant challenge for the facility, the academy promises a bright future for the club and the local community.
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The economic benefit of Manchester’s 2002 Commonwealth Games win was finally revealed on Monday, 12 years after the city won the bid. This was not exactly how Manchester’s city council planned it when it decided in the last decade of the last century that bidding for a multi-sporting event was the way to regenerate the grim flatlands of east Manchester.
It took the form of Manchester City’s new £200 million training facility and academy, which the club unveiled on 80 acres of previously contaminated land from the chemical-industry alongside new community facilities. While constructing one of the best training facilities on the planet for their fabulously wealthy young footballers, City’s billionaire Abu Dhabi owners have invested £3 million in the community and donated 5.5 acres to locals. On Monday, however, that kind of response was surprisingly hard to come by in the cramped rowhouses that sit next to the shiny new Etihad Campus.
Some residents said they had broken the cycle of joblessness in their families, but they acknowledged that George Osborne, the politician City invited to launch their facility, would not have been their first choice. Work contracts were given out with the stipulation that the contractors hire from within the community.
All 68 local apprentices hired for the project are still employed by the company. East Manchester residents only accounted for 25% of the jobs created, but they received more than a quarter of the contracts (83%). Workers at the site won’t get rich, but 10% of them were unemployed before they got jobs at the site.
The figures speak for themselves. The complex will create 160 construction jobs and 95 permanent roles, but only those with a long enough memory to recall the devastation caused when former Prime Minister Gordon Brown scrapped plans for a super-casino here, which was widely believed to bring addiction as well as employment.
You have to wonder what would have become of the “legacy” of the 2002 Games if the Abu Dhabis hadn’t shown up in September 2008 with their money. Thaksin Shinawatra, who preceded Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan as City owner, was on the verge of financial collapse and would not have been nearly as enthusiastic about investing in acres that have not seen industry since the closure of the local tinworks and coal mine.
City drew inspiration from basketball, softball, and Australian rules football clubs all over the world when designing the new arena, and the attention to detail is remarkable. Training fields feature three tiers of grass height to simulate visiting stadiums. Their players are provided with hotel-quality accommodations the night before games. The hydrotherapy area features six different water temperatures. The players requested a circular design for the main locker room to foster a sense of unity and belonging amongst themselves. There is the largest indoor pitch in Britain and a 7,000-seat academy stadium that faces the same direction as the main Etihad Stadium from the stands. If you want to learn more about Football, check out LordPing.co.uk for the latest in UK league.
NEW FACILITIES WITH CREATURE COMFORTS
An underground rainwater tank of 8.1 million gallons supplies water for the fields.
Out in the wild
Canadian geese have been spotted there as well as kestrels; it is believed that the geese mistook the site’s blue artificial pitch for water.
Train like a professional, eat like a professional, drink like a professional, and tweet like a professional,” reads a poster in the player care area.
In Good Hands
Half of the fields are set aside specifically for goalkeeper practice.
Landscapes embellished with water features
There are six different types of hydrotherapy available, including a cold plunge pool at 4C, a hot plunge pool at 36C, and a main pool with three lanes and a depth of 2m and side jets for treating injuries.
Eight of the sixteen fields have floodlighting suitable for television broadcasts. All are facing in the same direction as the Etihad Stadium.
It’s a drastic change from when Mark Hughes and Pablo Zabaleta first joined the club in its early days in Abu Dhabi. Before City fired him in 2009, the protruding wires and pipes on the exterior walls of the training facility on a reclaimed peat bog called Carrington Moss drove Hughes crazy.
Zabaleta couldn’t stand the gym because of how chilly it was. They did some work to improve the gym, the physio’s room, and even the dressing room after I had been here for six months, he recalled. There was a lot of space in the gym, but it was extremely cold. It was so cold outside that you seriously considered skipping your workout. I was fortunate enough to train in both of these areas of the City, which are very different from one another.
City will hope that this new environment will make the club more attractive to the best players in the world, and Zabaleta describes Lionel Messi’s amazement when he gave the tour when the Argentine team was in Manchester last month to play Portugal.
Manchester City’s £200m training facility and academy, which opened on 80 acres of previously contaminated chemical-industry land, has been revealed as the city’s economic benefit after winning the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The £200m community investment by billionaire Abu Dhabi owners and the 5.5 acres donated to locals have been praised for creating one of the best training facilities on earth for their rich young footballers. The academy has attracted a large number of locals, with contractors being awarded work on the understanding that they must recruit locally. Over 83% of the contracts went to firms within the M60 corridor and 25% of the jobs to people within East Manchester.
The academy offers a bright future for the club and locals, with 160 construction jobs and 95 permanent roles. The facility is designed to mimic opposition grounds, have four-star hotel-standard rooms for players to sleep in on the night before games, and have six temperatures of water in the hydrotherapy area. The circular main dressing room is designed to engender inclusivity among players. The academy stadium, which is on the same orientation as the main Etihad Stadium, is the largest indoor pitch in Britain.
The new facilities are designed to provide a safe environment for players, with an 8.1 million-litre rainwater tank under the site that collects rain and waters the pitches. The facility also features a 7,000-capacity academy stadium and the largest indoor pitch in Britain. The facilities include an 8.1 million-litre rainwater tank, a 7,000-capacity academy stadium, and a dedicated half-pitches for goalkeeper training.
The academy also features six areas of hydrotherapy, including a cold plunge pool at 4C, hot plunge at 36C, and a three-lane main pool with side jets to treat injuries. The academy also has 16 pitches, eight of which have floodlighting for TV coverage, all with the same orientation as the main Etihad Stadium.
The academy aims to make Manchester City more attractive to the best players in the world by creating a new environment, with Lionel Messi astonished by the guided tour when Argentina were in Manchester to play Portugal last month. However, the club’s ultimate goal is to create young players for the future, which is City’s Holy Grail.