Words by Laura Wood
Snowboarders in the North East could be ripping up real snow, real soon. Sunderland Council has announced plans to build a real indoor slope next to the Stadium of Light, as part of a wider project that’s set to house an ice rink, sports shops, bars and restaurants.
After suffering the hard knocks and broken thumbs that dry slopes bring for so long, the prospect of a real snow indoor slope on Sunderland’s doorstep is exciting stuff for Northern riders. It would be a huge boost for the economy in the North East and the chance for future pros to shine. Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson is also pretty damn excited about the whole thing. he said: “A unique facility like an indoor ski slope with snow would enhance the great sporting venues already on offer, and play a huge part in boosting the city’s role as a visitor destination.”
The plans for the site stemmed from a partnership between the council and local regeneration company Sunderland Arc. The two are currently searching for leisure developers in order to kick start Sunderland’s big freeze. Arc have stated that they intend to appoint a contractor by the end of 2010, so we can only wait in anticipation as potential developers fight it out for the chance to become part of this ambitious snow scheme.
Since the closure of the steel company Corus in the North East, the area has suffered economically and with the roaring furnaces at Corus turning off for the last time, locals are hoping that the new snowy development will give them a much-needed boost. Simon Elliot, Property Development Manager at Sunderland arc, said: “With the nearest real snow slopes at Castleford, Manchester and Glasgow, Sunderland is ideally located to capitalise on demand for such a facility.” For snowboarders, this could be the start of a vibrant scene in the North East, of the kind that has helped put Manchester, Cas-Vegas, and most recently, Hemel Hempstead on the map.
But while the plans have generated huge interest and excitement amongst snowboarders and business boffins alike, nothing is yet set in stone. Discussions on the development look positive, but as always with mega projects like this, the journey from the first plans to the first tracks may be a long one.