In this Q&A series, Proleisure Directors, and guests, offer insight into the latest trends and issues affecting the development of world-class sports infrastructure.

This week we ask Directors Jon Stemp and Ross Thompson to discuss how one elite training facility can house different codes.

How does a multi-club training hub work?

Ross: It’s an elite training precinct where multiple teams, from different codes, are housed. Some facilities are dedicated. Logistics, privacy and team-building considerations generally mean that each team has their own dedicated pitch, gym and player amenities, administration and catering.

But there are some facilities that can be shared between teams, and codes. Some medical and rehabilitation equipment and services can be shared, as can player accommodation and services like facility management and laundry. Extra pitch space can be shared by league, union and football teams.

This kind of sharing hasn’t commonly been done at elite level in the past. It must be challenging to get it right?

Jon: I’ve seen some facilities that have been built for one purpose, one sport, and then they’ve tried to reverse engineer in another sport. It’s very difficult to make this concept work in a space that’s been designed primarily for another use.
My personal view is that you can achieve a dual or multi-use operation effectively, but it has to be designed at the outset. You first of all need to understand each individual code. You need to ensure that the physical facility is designed fit-for-purpose for each. When you’ve worked diligently to understand every working facet of each organisation, you can come up with a design that enables these organisations to function effectively, without cross-pollinating the operations where you don’t want that to happen, and to allow teams their privacy where they need it.

What are the benefits of sharing a facility?

Ross: The biggest thing is clearly cost saving. A multi-use hub is a really attractive option for clubs and funding bodies, including government, because of economies of scale in construction.

Teams themselves make savings because someone else is helping to pay for facilities and equipment that they need, but don’t need access to all the time. It means all teams are able to have state-of-the-art technology and the world’s best medical and recovery services – resources they may not have afforded on a single team’s budget.

These hubs also facilitate support and rapport between codes, the benefit of which is obviously a bit harder to measure, but is inarguably great for a city or region. These precincts often include extensive public-use facilities as well, which is good for the community and adds to fan-base and sustainable growth of your sport.

Jon: When you have great facilities and great infrastructure, you create a place where people want to be. That has a positive effect on players, coaches and the workforce as a whole. You tend to get much better performance and productivity. It flows on to affect your recruitment of new talent, future investment and your relationship with community. If a shared training hub offers the opportunity to achieve that level of excellence in your infrastructure, I think it’s well worth considering.