“Nationally significant and stunning new facilities that will inspire pupils, the community, those new to sport and future generations of sportspeople still to come.”
That was how Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council Leader described the opening of the first two of four new sports pitches at the £68 million Barony Campus development – the biggest capital investment ever undertaken by the Council.
The official opening unveiled two full-size floodlit, synthetic pitches, the larger of which is the same size as the pitch at BT Murrayfield, making it one of the biggest artificial playing surfaces in the country and designed to World Rugby standard.
Two more full-size grass pitches, lined for football and rugby will open in 2022 and the larger pitch will again be designed to World Rugby standards.
In addition to the four new pitches a new 400m all-weather four-lane running track with six lane sprint track will open later this year, equipping the Barony Campus with some of the best athletics facilities in the country.
Councillor Reid said: “Our investment at the heart of the Auchinleck and Cumnock communities is one of the most innovative developments ever undertaken in Scotland and I’m grateful to the Scottish Government for their continued support and interest in what we are achieving in East Ayrshire.
“I’m delighted that we are formally opening the state of the art rugby pitches with matches between Auchinleck, Cumnock, Grange and Loudoun Academies.
“These facilities are unparalleled, meeting international standards and offering a range of facilities and configurations the envy of many dedicated sporting venues.
“To give you an idea on the talent we can boast, last year, seven of the 24-strong Scottish U16 team that toured Japan were from Cumnock, or Auchinleck Academy – schools where rugby has been flourishing through the Schools of Rugby programme.
“I’m certain these new facilities will see that pedigree develop and grow and look forward to seeing more young players from our schools coming through to represent their country at the highest possible level.
Eddie Robertson, Managing Director of Central Scotland, Morrison Construction said: ‘‘It is wonderful to be here today to mark the opening of these fantastic sporting facilities we have delivered as part of this first-class project for the Cumnock and Auchinleck communities. For me, a highlight of today was to see a match played on one of the new 3G artificial pitches, constructed to a World Rugby standard.
‘‘On site, there has been excellent progress with the 2,000-tonne steel frame now complete and the external walling and internal fit out underway. As we continue working hard to deliver this wonderful education facility our engagement with stakeholders in the community will continue.’’
Also attending the opening event were Mark Linden, President, Cumnock Rugby Club and Jennifer Griffin, SRU Regional Director (Glasgow South) who said: “We have launched a new national strategy designed to support the development of rugby in local communities, based on local need.
“The Cashback School of Rugby programme in both secondary schools has not only allowed youngsters to develop their skills on the pitch, but we recognise the significant positive social impact that rugby has on the local community.
“The Glasgow South Rugby Development Team are really excited about the growth of rugby in East Ayrshire and the new pitches on the Barony Campus provide a fantastic opportunity to support players, coaches, match officials and volunteers within the community.”
Once the new synthetic pitches were officially open, inaugural matches with male and female under 15 pupils from Auchinleck, Cumnock, Loudoun and Grange Schools of Rugby took place.
You can see more images from the opening event here.