Exclusive: ‘Turning Point’ For Sports Complex Plans

The long-awaited dream of a university sports centre is closer than ever today after a group of Hawks’ club alumni offered to raise the funds and ‘make this thing happen’.

hawks' club ian ralby sports centre sports complex

The long-awaited dream of a university sports centre is closer than ever today after a dramatic intervention by a group of prominent backers.

The Tab can exclusively reveal that a number of Hawks’ club alumni are offering to take on the task of raising the necessary funds for the historic project.

Hawks’ Club president Ian Ralby yesterday told The Tab: “this is huge. This is the turning point potentially for finally making this project happen”.

The group’s plans are currently in their infancy, but the development would be based on the West Cambridge site, where planning permission was granted ten years ago for a university-backed centre.

An architect’s impression of what the planned centre at West Cambridge would look like from the road (courtesy of Arup Associates).

The Tab has learned that plans would fill in the gaps in the current system, providing a multisport hall and social centre, a swimming pool and floodlit pitches.

Ralby’s dramatic announcement follows three weeks of fast-moving discussions as he put together a steering group of influential Hawks’ Club alumni.

The ball was set rolling when the problem was first brought to their attention at a meeting in London on November 2nd.

Ollie Slack, President between 1998 and 1999, described the general reaction of the ex-Tabs at the lack of sporting facilities as one of disbelief: “Frankly a lot of the alumni were shocked when they found out how bad the situation really was. No one really knew. Everything is going to swing into action quite quickly now.”

The decision was swiftly made to improve the situation, and help the project to develop as quickly and effectively as possible.

The agreement was cemented at the Steele-Bodger Rugby match on Wednesday, a popular event for returning sports players, as a group of alumni met with developers to discuss the plan’s feasibility.


The next step will be gathering the funding, rumoured to add up to tens of millions of pounds, and working out the details of the complex with University officials.

Ralby and the group of backers know that working with the University is central to the success of the project.

He said: “We’re not criticising the University in any way. We’re not pointing any fingers at why this project hasn’t happened previously. All we’re trying to do is come to the table with a solution to what seems the principal problem, which is funding.”

The University have yet to react officially to the new plan, although Ralby told us that a representative he met yesterday was “pretty pleased!”.

One possibility would be putting the relatively inexpensive pitches in first, a strategy that could see building start before the end of next year.

Last night the group released an official statement, promising to “explore positively avenues for the provision of facilities that match the [Hawks’] Club’s heritage and its aspirations. Resident and alumni members of the Hawks’ Club look forward to continuing to work with the University.”

Follow the story as it develops here on The Tab.