Bold vision for Ayr’s own version of Madison Square Garden

A hugely ambitious plan to create a Madison Square Garden-style facility – featuring world class sports, leisure and conference facilities, an arena, hotel and travel hub – in Ayr is being unveiled.

SeeAYR, the independent group of local professionals who have put together the proposals, say they wish to see their plans discussed and developed by all, with a view to creating a legacy for young people in the area.

And one of the keys to the proposal is the creation of a regional football centre, which would become the fifth full-size indoor football pitch built as part of a push by the Scottish Football Association and Scottish Government.

Also central to the development is a multi-use arena that could be used for sports like ice hockey to pop concerts, as well as the creation of accommodation, dedicated train and bus stations on site and much-needed sea defenses.

The plan for the former coal yard adjacent to the promenade along Newton shore is part of a broader vision which looks at Ayr and Prestwick as a small scale ‘metropolitan area’, rather than separated by town boundaries.

John Dunlop, of SeeAYR, is a former director of policy and administration at the SFA, and sees the football element of the Ayr development as a chance at tackling some ‘unfinished business’.

SeeAYR will reveal details of leisure hub inspired by Madison Square Garden in New York
SeeAYR will reveal details of leisure hub inspired by Madison Square Garden in New York

He said: “At the SFA, I kicked off the project where the Scottish Government agreed to support six indoor football centers for Scottish football.

“Assuming Ayr is built – and this proposal deserves discussion – it would be the fifth full-size indoor pitch to be built.

“The proposal embraces the same simple concept of a multi-site facility run efficiently as one.”

SeeAYR will unveil its proposals to government agencies, individuals and sports bodies ‘primarily to raise the level of debate on the future economy of Ayrshire’.

The group says the development would also play a big part in the regeneration of an area of ​​town that has been neglected, including road infrastructure, residents and businesses.

The old coal yard at Newton shore in Ayr could host ambitious leisure hub
The old coal yard at Newton shore in Ayr could host ambitious leisure hub

Part of the impetus for the project has been the controversy around the council’s £45 million leisure center being developed.

A SeeAYR spokesman said: “South Ayrshire Council (SAC) has decided to demolish the current Citadel sports center and pool and are proposing a much-reduced ‘leisure centre’ within the central business district of the town.

“These proposals are not driven by any sporting needs and no sports were consulted in the development of SAC’s proposals.

“The current iteration denies facilities to 20 Commonwealth and Olympic Games sport.

“The document laid out comprehensive and novel ambitions for Ayr and district, setting a vision with a focus on repurposing, regeneration and renewal supported by Ayr’s significant leisure, heritage, and cultural assets.

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“Many have been consulted since including the local business community. South Ayrshire Council has not responded to requests for a response to the prospectus.

“SeeAYR believe that Newton can be the catalyst for urban rejuvenation and inward investment in Ayrshire.

“Newton will create many jobs, deliver world class sports facilities for all, provide multi-use event spaces, and create a modern travel interchange serving all living in the metropolitan area and visitors alike, as efficient in the build as it will be in its operation, delivering true legacy for the young of the area.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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