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Places for People reveals strategy behind leisure centre naming rights deal

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A £28m leisure centre is set to open tomorrow (28 November) in Eastleigh, bearing the name of operators Places for People.

The new centre, Places Leisure Eastleigh, has been developed by Eastleigh Borough Council with a contribution of £2m from Sport England, and will be operated by Places for People Leisure.

Speaking to Health Club Management about the deal, in which Places for People will sponsor a number of physical activity schemes, including the GP referral HealthWorks scheme, in return for naming rights, COO of Places for People Leisure John Oxley said: “We’re delighted about the new name of Places Leisure Eastleigh and we’re proud to be its sponsor. We intend to develop a reputation as a beacon of best practice – a beacon of innovation and opportunity, which we hope others will aspire to match.”

Explaining the strategy behind the move, Rich Millard, Places for People partnership director, said: “We’re in the process of refocusing our group branding. We’re very proud of our Places concept, and it was just a natural and logical progression [to naming rights].

"There was an opportunity to invest in the HealthWorks and other physical activity schemes, and we worked with the local authority to come up with this arrangement. It’s a good deal for us because it raises our exposure, however, we’re very respectful of the fact that it’s a community centre, which is why we’ve included ‘Eastleigh’ in the name.

While Millard says there are no immediate plans for the Places Leisure name to be given to other centres, he believes it is likely to happen eventually. “No more plans at the moment, but I think that concept will probably develop," he said. "Watch this space.”

Designed by AHR Architects to high environmental specifications, the Eastleigh facility holds an eight-lane, 25m main swimming pool, a learner pool with adjustable depth, a 15-badminton court-sized sports hall, a 150-station fitness suite, several large group exercise studios, four squash courts with a moveable wall, a spacious cafe that opens onto Fleming Park and a multi-storey soft play area for children.

Outdoor facilities include a refurbished full-size, all-weather pitch, three improved 5-a-side pitches and four new full-size tennis and netball courts.

Netball England, which donated £90,000 towards the centre’s construction, will use it as its South of England training base, while 20 beneficiaries of the Hampshire Talented Athletes Scheme will receive free access to the facilities.

The new centre replaces the old Fleming Park Leisure Centre at the same site, which will now be demolished.

“I hope people will see this as an exciting place," said leader of Eastleigh Borough Council Keith House, speaking at a preview on Thursday (23 November). "It’s got a ‘wow’ factor – it’s welcoming, warm and light. I hope this will bring people in who wouldn’t normally think a leisure centre is the place for them.

“This project is about creating a healthier borough, giving more people opportunities to lead healthier lifestyles.”

Oxley added: “Our passion is improving opportunities for members of the local community to enjoy an active lifestyle – we’ve worked for the past 26 years at Fleming Park and we intend to continue that work going forward.”

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A £28m leisure centre is set to open tomorrow (28 November) in Eastleigh, bearing the name of operators Places for People.
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