The world's top athletes will get their first taste of competitive action at Glasgow's stunning new Commonwealth Sports Arena in January 2013 it has been confirmed.
Organisers of the Aviva International Match have announced the star-studded fixture will relocate to the £113million venue in Glasgow’s East End next January, bringing to an end a 21-year association with the Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena.
The move will give athletes access to some of the best indoor sporting facilities in the world. The Commonwealth Sports Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome will be one of the biggest facilities of its kind in Europe. It is located on a 10.5 hectare site in Dalmarnock, close to Celtic Park and the Commonwealth Games Athletes Village.
The new facility is being built by Glasgow City Council and plans are already being put in place for its official opening late this year. A world-class programme of sporting events will be staged at the venue in the lead up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, with the 2013 Aviva International Match to be the first major athletics meeting. The Aviva International Match is delivered by UKA in partnership with Glasgow Life on behalf of Glasgow City Council, with support from EventScotland.
The Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and the Executive Member for the Commonwealth Games, Councillor Archie Graham, said: “The Aviva International Match has been at the heart of Glasgow’s sporting calendar for a number of years now and we are delighted that it will be the first major athletics event to be hosted at the new Commonwealth Sports Arena.
“Glasgow is one of the world’s leading sporting cities and the new arena will enable us to continue competing on a global stage when it comes to hosting major events. With that in mind we are currently developing what will be a world-class events programme around its opening later this year and the Aviva International Match will be a central part of this.
“But while we are rightly looking forward to welcoming the world’s top athletes to the arena in January next year for it is important to note that is a venue for the people of Glasgow and they will among the first to use it. It is an exciting time for sport in Glasgow and it is only right that local people are involved from day one.”
UKA Chief Executive, Niels de Vos, said: “We are delighted to have concluded a two-year contract with Glasgow Life to stage the famous Aviva International Match at the new Commonwealth Sports Arena. The venue is genuinely world class and the world's best athletes will want to compete there. Working with Glasgow Life we believe the new venue will enable Glasgow to become the leading city in the world for indoor athletics.”
Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland added: "It is exciting to think that the Aviva International Match will be the first major athletics event to take place in the new Commonwealth Sports Arena in just 12 months time. Scotland is the perfect stage for events, and I'm sure the venue will welcome the athletics as preparation continues ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games."
Confirmation of the Aviva International Match’s move to the Commonwealth Sports Arena comes as details of a proposal to transform the Kelvin Hall into a publicly accessible collections facility for Glasgow Museums and The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery were revealed.
The plan, which has received first stage approval from the Heritage Lottery Fund, would see the creation of a safe and secure home for a combined 1.5 million treasures from Glasgow’s civic collection and those of The University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery.
Meanwhile Saturday’s farewell Aviva International Match at the Kelvin Hall was a sell out, with history created in the very final event of the day. Gold boy of British athletics, Mo Farah, who stepped down in distance to take on 1500m specialist Kenyan Augustine Choge, set a new stadium record that will now last forever.
And Farah was full of praise for the Glasgow crowd after his victory. He said: “The crowd was amazing – they just really got behind me and it really means a lot. I couldn’t believe how much noise was coming out of the crowd – it was unbelievable. I’ve never experienced that in my life.”
Current world 100m bronze medallist Kim Collins, who finished second in both the 60m and 200m events on Saturday, also had high praise for the Glasgow fans. Collins, who hails from St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, said: “I feel like the home favourite when I run here in Glasgow. It is great to feel the love and support the crowd show me.”
Home favourite Mark Lewis Francis, who beat Collins to win the 60m event, said: “I love it in Glasgow – it’s my second time winning here and I really enjoyed it. It is always a pleasure to run when it is the last international match at a venue. It was a great honour to come back here and run in front of an amazing crowd."